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Congress Moves on Cosmetics Animal Testing - Which Way May Depend on Us
June 26, 2015, updated November 20, 2015
Animal testing of cosmetics broke through as an issue in the 2013-2014 Congress, when two opposing bills were introduced. One would ban animal testing and one would impose animal testing. To be considered in the 2015-2016 Congress, bills must be re-introduced. The ban was re-introduced in June 2015. The other bill has not yet been re-introduced. Ask your representative to support the ban and to kill the competing bill if it is re-introduced.
Two Opposing Bills: One Bans Animal Testing and One Requires It
Two bills introduced into the US Congress since 2013 would have opposite effects on animal testing:
The Humane Cosmetics Act would ban all animal testing of cosmetics in the US and would also ban the sale of cosmetics tested on animals.
The Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act would impose animal testing on most cosmetics ingredients, including natural ingredients and those with a history of safe use.
The Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act was introduced first, in March 2013, by Rep. Jan Schakowsky D-IL. The bill has been generally described as a measure to improve cosmetics safety and transparency in labeling. The required animal testing, hidden in technical language in the bill, went largely unnoticed until an article in the journal ALTEX revealed that the bill's proposed testing would kill 1 million to 11.5 million animals over the first 10 years. By the end of the 2013-2014 Congress, this bill had 25 co-sponsors, all Democrats, although only one signed on after the animal testing was revealed.
The Humane Cosmetics Act was first introduced in March 2014, by Rep Jim Moran D-VA, now retired. The one-page bill focuses only on banning animal testing in cosmetics. By the end of the 2013-2014 Congress, this bill had 56 co-sponsors, 55 Democrats and 1 Republican. The bill was re-introduced into the 2015-2016 Congress on June 23, 2015 by two Republicans and two Democrats, indicating bipartisan support for a ban. By November, it had more than 130 sponsors; however, only 12 are Republicans. More Republican support will be needed for this bill to move forward.
Confused Legislators Have Supported Both Bills
Ironically, 14 co-sponsors of the Humane Cosmetics Act also co-sponsored the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act in the 2013-2014 Congress. Most co-sponsored the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act before the study on its animal testing was published. Once legislators co-sponsor a bill, it's rare for them to revoke that sponsorship, even if they no longer support it, so it's difficult to know whether the legislators would still support the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act if/when it's reintroduced. The legislators who co-sponsored both bills are listed at the end of this article.
With Bills Being Re-introduced, Now's the Time to Speak
In January 2015, a new Congress was sworn in. All proposed bills from the previous Congress automatically expired if they hadn't been enacted by then. Generally, bills are then re-introduced into the new Congress. The Humane Cosmetics Act was re-introduced June 23, 2015, as H.R. 2858, by U.S. Reps. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., Don Beyer, D-Va., Joe Heck, R-Nev., and Tony Cardenas, D-Calif. As of this writing, the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act (H.R. 1385 in the 2013-2014 Congress) has not yet been re-introduced.
Oppose the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act if it's re-introduced, unless it includes a complete ban on animal testing similar to the ban in the Humane Cosmetics Act. If your representative is one of the 14 who co-sponsored both Acts (see below), please ask him or her to NOT sponsor the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act again unless it bans animal testing of cosmetics.
Representatives Who Have Supported Both Acts
Blumenauer, Earl [D-OR3]
Cartwright, Matthew [D-PA17]
Chu, Judy [D-CA27]
Conyers, John [D-MI13]
Grijalva, Raul [D-AZ3]
Hastings, Alcee [D-FL20]
Lee, Barbara [D-CA13]
Lofgren, Zoe [D-CA19]
McGovern, James "Jim" [D-MA2]
Norton, Eleanor [D-DC0]
Pingree, Chellie [D-ME1]
Schiff, Adam [D-CA28]
Speier, Jackie [D-CA14]
Tierney, John [D-MA6]
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