May 11 — Negotiators agree a deal revamping the nation's primary chemicals law is “very close” but what exactly that means remains a term of art.
Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), lead Senate sponsor of a broad overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act (S. 697), told reporters May 11 he expects a bicameral deal within days and said Congress could send that compromise legislation to the president's desk before it leaves for its Memorial Day recess the week of May 30.
“We still have a few outstanding issues—I don't want to get into those—but I think we'll be able to get it done this work period, if not sooner,” he said.
But Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), author of the House's narrower TSCA revamp (H.R. 2576), wavered on whether a deal could be completed this week as other top negotiators have suggested.
“It depends on what hour you’re asking me,” Shimkus, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, told reporters. “In all honesty, had you asked me that at eight o’clock this morning, I would have said yes [it will be finished this week]. If you ask me about it now [midafternoon], I’m saying maybe.”
Shimkus wouldn't say what changed in those intervening hours but said he nevertheless thought it possible the House would be able to vote on the deal the week of May 16 under suspension of the rules, which requires a two-thirds majority to pass a bill. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) first indicated quick House action was possible a day earlier (91 DEN A-2, 5/11/16).
Neither Shimkus or Udall would characterize the remaining obstacles to a deal, though several other sources said the issue of federal preemption of state chemical laws and regulations remained a sticking point.
Shimkus said the House appreciated the work in the Senate to gain Boxer's support and acknowledged it would be difficult to fiddle too much with that chamber's carefully negotiated compromise.
“We asked the Senate to help resolve this and bring Senator Boxer on board, which they did,” Shimkus said. “We have to give them great credit for that and that’s very helpful. So it’s tough for us to mess with that too much... Bottom line is their work is very helpful, and we just need to finish it.”
“We’re in a good place; we’re just not there yet,” he added.
Separately, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, told Bloomberg BNA he chatted about the chemicals bill with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) during a meeting.
“We did discuss it,” Inhofe said, but declined to say whether McConnell had promised him floor time on the measure.
Udall saw other signs that negotiators were close to an agreement, noting that there was already talk of scheduling press conferences to announce a deal.
“As you get near the end, it takes a little time,” Udall told reporters. “[But] we’re getting close—we really are.”
Boxer told Bloomberg BNA that lawmakers continued to work an agreement throughout the day and were closing in on a deal.
“We’re wrapping it up, but it’s not done until it’s done,” Boxer, ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said. “It’s getting closer to the finish line.”
Despite the efforts to gain Boxer's support, a coalition of health, environmental, consumer, labor, business and religious organizations said May 11 it remains opposed to the Senate’s bill based on the early preemption language that appears to remain in it, according to Andy Igrejas, co-founder of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families.
Statements Boxer recently made to reporters indicate the bill would continue to preempt states' ability to regulate a chemical in commerce up to seven years before the Environmental Protection Agency took action to manage it, Igrejas told Bloomberg BNA.
With assistance from Pat Rizzuto in Washington.
To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Adragna in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at firstname.lastname@example.org
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)