Missouri’s junior senator is part of the committee investigating why the Consumer Product Safety Commission has allowed unsafe toys to be sold to children.
Senator Claire McCaskill speaks of the years when she used to buy Thomas the Tank Engine for her children…knowing it was a basic, safe toy….and how disappointed she and other parents are to know that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has let thousands of those toys get into children’s hands despite lead-contaminated paint.
She wondered how the commission’s inspector general could have let those toys get through….and then she went to the commission inspector general’s internet site. "There are only two people there," she told the Senate Commerce Committee. She says the position carries too much responsibility to have a staff of only three, including a secretary, and a budget of only $200,000.
On top of that, she says, the commission’s Inspector General has no internet website to solicit public comments or to publicize reports. The result, she says, is that nobody is minding the store.
McCaskill is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee…which reviewed the commission budget earlier this year. She was frustrated that the commission director did not ask for more money. But she has learned from another senator that the commission director is under orders not to ask for more money than the Bush administration budget office recommended.
The committee is considering legislation reforming the agency. One part of the bill increases the commission staff to 500 employees, several of whom would be in the I-G’s office.