Congress has recently introduced a number of measures in response to the problems caused by defective drywall imported from China. Both the House and Senate introduced identical bills titled the Drywall Safety Act of 2009 (H.R. 1977; S. 739), which, if enacted, would require the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Counsel to study at least ten samples of drywall imported from China between 2004 and 2007 taken from homes in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Virginia. The study is to include an analysis of (1) the chemical and organic composition of the drywall, (2) the effect of the drywall compounds on metal wiring, air conditioning and heating units, and other metal fixtures, and (3) any health or environmental impact of the compounds. The Act further directs the CPSC to initiate a proceeding to determine whether a consumer product safety standard regulating the composition of materials used in drywall is necessary to protect the health and safety of residential homeowners and imposes a temporary ban on the importation of drywall exceeding five percent organic compounds.
Additionally, the House passed a measure to amend the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act, H.R. 1728, to direct the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to study the effect on residential mortgage foreclosures of (1) the presence of defective Chinese drywall in such residences and (2) the availability of property insurance for residences where such drywall is present. HUD is required to report its findings, conclusions and recommendations to Congress. This bill has been referred to committee.
The focus of the legislation under consideration is the evaluation of the drywall problem and its impact upon residential owners, and addressing future drywall imports, as opposed to providing any relief to those whose homes contain the defective Chinese drywall. If the proposed studies show that Chinese drywall issues have caused environmental, health, foreclosure or insurance issues for residential property owners, there may be another round of legislation to address those issues. Check back here for updates as we track the progress of these measures through Congress.