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Pallone & Schakowsky Highlight 2019 Accomplishments of Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee

Dec 18, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – As we approach the end of 2019, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) highlighted the Subcommittee’s work to protect Americans from dangerous consumer products, promote travel and tourism and combat fraud, safeguard consumer privacy both online and offline, and more.  The Subcommittee held 12 hearings, two markups and passed eight bills this year.

“This year, the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee worked to protect consumers by advancing legislation to get dangerous products off our shelves and away from our kids,” Pallone and Schakowsky said.  “We also passed legislation to reauthorize funding for the Brand USA program to promote travel and tourism from abroad and the U.S. SAFE WEB Act to protect consumers from foreign scams.  We also continue productive work on comprehensive data privacy and security and autonomous vehicle legislation.  We will never stop working to protect American consumers, and we look forward to another productive year in 2020.”

Protecting consumers from common household dangers:

  • Passed through the Subcommittee and Full Committee six bills to protect American families from common household dangers, such as furniture tip-overs, inclined sleepers, crib bumpers, carbon monoxide poisoning, portable fuel containers, and flammable furniture.  The six bills will save countless lives and ensure the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) acts quickly to enforce the law and educate consumers about these common household dangers.  On September 17, the House of Representatives passed three of these bills by voice vote. The House passed the other three bills earlier this week.

Promoting travel and tourism and stopping consumer fraud: 

  • Passed through the Subcommittee and Full Committee two bills, H.R. 3851 and H.R. 4779, to reauthorize the Brand USA program and the U.S. SAFE WEB Act.  The Brand USA program promotes travel to the United States and the SAFE WEB Act enhances the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) ability to collaborate with foreign law enforcement agencies to go after foreign actors engaged in consumer fraud and deception.  The House passed H.R. 4779, the bill to reauthorize the SAFE WEB Act, earlier this week and H.R. 3851, the bill to reauthorize the Brand USA program, was included in the fiscal year 2020 appropriations package that passed the House yesterday.

Protecting consumers’ privacy and data security:

  • Released a Government Accountability Report (GAO) report recommending that Congress develop comprehensive internet data privacy legislation to enhance consumer protections while maintaining flexibility to address a rapidly evolving Internet.  Committee staff are working on a bipartisan basis to develop comprehensive privacy and data security legislation.

Conducting oversight of the FTC:

  • Held an oversight hearing with the FTC in May to highlight that the Commission needs more enforcement power, rulemaking authority, and resources to effectively safeguard Americans’ privacy and data security, as well as other important issues within the Commission’s purview.

Exploring ways to protect drivers and their families from driving dangers:  

  • Held two hearings in the Subcommittee – one hearing on May 23 on summer driving dangers and a legislative hearing on July 24  on bills to make cars in America safer.  Motor vehicle death rates have increased since 2014.  Technologies exist that will vastly improve motor vehicle safety, but we must find ways to get them in the hands of all drivers.

Conducting oversight of the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Held an oversight hearing with CPSC and consumer advocates to discuss the Committee’s serious concerns about the Commission’s commitment to protecting consumers from the risks associated with dangerous consumer products and the troubling cozy relationship with industries it is supposed to regulate.  

Investigating potential unfair and deceptive practices in live event ticket industry:

  • Launched a bipartisan investigation into practices in the live event ticketing industry.  The Committee leaders address several concerning trends that disadvantage consumers, including high, hidden fees, speculative tickets that harm unknowing customers, and “white label” websites that may use practices that deceive consumers.  

Protecting Consumers From Pharmaceutical Market Gaming Tactics:

  • Held a hearing on September 19 on product hopping in the pharmaceutical market.  While many innovative prescription drug reformulations provide important benefits to consumers, anti-competitive conduct by drug manufacturers can harm patient access to lifesaving drugs by contributing to skyrocketing drug prices.  Chair Schakowsky will introduce legislation to address product hopping in the new year.

Working to establish a framework to ensure the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles:

  • The Committee continues to work with the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation on a bicameral, bipartisan process to develop a self-driving car bill.  The Committees are currently in the process of requesting feedback from stakeholders on proposals developed by staff, with the goal of producing legislation that all parties can support.

Exploring whether consumers are adequately protected online: 

  • Over the last few years, bad actors, both foreign and domestic, have increasingly abused the Internet to peddle extremism, disinformation, and hatred that divides our nation.  On October 16, a joint subcommittee hearing explored whether online companies are appropriately using the tools they have – including protections Congress granted in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – to foster a healthier internet.

Exploring the lack of diversity in the technology industry and its effect on our economy:

  • The Subcommittee held a hearing on March 6 on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the technology industry. People of color, women and older Americans are largely absent from this workforce, and the decisions these companies make affect our economy in many ways.