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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

Places in Washington DC

Norton Condemns Effort to Find Members to Block D.C. Bathroom Products Labeling Law During Appropriations Process

Jun 15, 2017
Press Release

Members Preoccupied with D.C. Bathrooms and Sewers Will Not Get a Free Pass

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today sharply criticized efforts by the nonwoven disposable products industry to block a new District of Columbia law regulating the labeling of personal hygiene products, particularly wet wipes, as safe to flush.  After the industry tried but failed to find a Member of Congress to introduce a disapproval resolution to nullify the bill during the congressional review process, the industry has begun aggressively lobbying Members to add a rider to block the law during the upcoming fiscal year 2018 appropriations process.

“Why would any Member of Congress stoop so low as to put his name on a provision to block a local D.C. law regarding bathroom products,” Norton said.  “I am not sure how Members could tell their constituents with a straight face that they are spending their time in Congress trying to clog the toilets and sewers of D.C. with non-flushable bathroom products by interfering with a local law.  The industry lost on the merits at the D.C. Council.  If they believe the D.C. law is not only bad policy, but unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause and First Amendment, as they claim, the appropriate venue is the courts, not Congress, which is unaccountable to D.C. residents.”

The D.C. Council unanimously passed the Nonwoven Disposable Products Act of 2016, and the mayor signed it, after the Council held a hearing with witnesses representing industry and wastewater utilities.  According to the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, utilities spend $500 million-$1 billion per year to address clogs and other problems caused by the flushing of nonwoven disposable products, and there are health and safety risks to workers who clear these clogs.

The Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry (INDA), as well as its members, has been leading the effort to block the law.  The INDA has published several op-eds in the conservative press and local D.C. papers in opposition to the law.