The Senate is likely to take up a bill to update federal management of chemicals just before lawmakers leave for their summer recess, Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe said in an interview yesterday.
Inhofe’s committee approved the "Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act" — a proposed update to the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act — in a 15-5 vote in April. The comfortable margin of passage in the markup suggests the bill stands a good chance on the floor, the Oklahoma Republican said.
The bill picked up Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) as co-sponsors yesterday, which gives the bill at least 52 backers.
In a statement, Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), who introduced the bill earlier this year with Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), said he was "overwhelmed by the strong support for comprehensive chemical safety reform, which keeps growing every day."
The bill, S. 697, could hit the floor "probably with three days, four days left" after the Senate takes up a bill for funding transportation projects, before recess, Inhofe said.
"TSCA could very easily happen within that period of time," he said.
Differences between the Senate bill and House legislation, H.R. 2576, could be worked out in tandem with a Senate floor debate, Inhofe said.
"I have every reason to believe that will be next in line right after" the Senate deals with other priority bills, Inhofe said.
Inhofe’s comments were the latest on the timing of possible floor action on the Senate TSCA bill. The House passed its measure by a 398-1 margin last month (E&E Daily, June 24).
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in an email that the Kentucky Republican had not finalized the legislative schedule beyond planned action on a long-term transportation funding bill.
The Senate is scheduled to stay in session through Aug. 7; House lawmakers are scheduled to leave Washington on July 30.
The full Senate has never voted on a TSCA rewrite, as previous reform efforts fizzled out amid partisan disagreements.
Reporters Geof Koss and Hannah Northey contributed.