The $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress on Monday, December 21, and signed by President Trump Sunday, included more than 3,000 pages of legislation, including the Safer Occupancy Furniture Flammability Act (SOFFA).
The spending bill was combined with the $900 billion COVID relief package that extends aid to millions of unemployed Americans.
The upholstered furniture flammability legislation was sponsored by Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and renamed the COVID-19 Regulatory Relief and Work from Home Safety Act (S. 1341). It requires the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to adopt California’s Technical Bulletin 117-2013 as a federal flammability standard for residential upholstered furniture.
“As more Americans stay home during the pandemic, this legislation will help protect consumers and reduce the risk of upholstered furniture fires,” a brief summary of the measure released December 21 stated.
California TB 117-2013 outlines performance standards and methods for testing the smolder resistance of cover fabrics along with the barrier, filling and decking materials used in upholstered home furnishings. The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) formally petitioned the CPSC to adopt the measure as a national standard in October 2015 and later introduced SOFFA when no action from the agency was forthcoming. The legislation advanced in the House in both 2017 and 2019 but remained stalled in the Senate.
AHFA confirmed on December 21 that the renamed SOFFA had been added to the massive year-end catchall bill that Congress approved last week. But the entire package remained in limbo as President Trump left Washington to spend Christmas at his Mar-a-Lago resort without signing it.
“The COVID-19 version of SOFFA still mandates the best test methods and construction standards we have today,” says AHFA CEO Andy Counts. “Importantly, it also continues to prohibit differing state or local upholstered furniture flammability regulations,” he added.