October 25, 2020

Volume X, Number 299

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October 23, 2020

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CPSC Chair Nominee Facing Bipartisan Opposition

Yesterday, the Senate Commerce Committee held a confirmation hearing for Dr. Nancy Beck, who was nominated to be a commissioner and chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dr. Beck faced significant skepticism from Democratic members of the committee. However, she also had a tense exchange with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R, W. Va.) regarding Dr. Beck’s prior work with the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House.

Now, Capito and Senator Susan Collins (R, Maine) have announced their opposition to Dr. Beck’s nominations. With a 14-12 Republican majority on the Commerce Committee, it’s unclear if Dr. Beck’s nominations can receive a favorable vote. If the nominations are reported unfavorably, Dr. Beck could still be confirmed by the full Senate, but, with Republicans holding just 53 votes, the vote on the Senate floor is far from certain.

If Dr. Beck’s nominations overcome the objections of Senators Capito and Collins and she is confirmed, she would take the helm of the agency from current Acting Chair Bob Adler (D). She would also shift the CPSC from its 2-2 partisan split to its first Republican majority in more than a decade, a majority that would be slated to run through October 2024, given the terms of current Republican Commissioners Dana Baiocco and Peter Feldman.

If Dr. Beck’s nomination fails – as did those of former Commissioner and Acting Chair Ann Marie Buerkle through three sessions of Congress – the CPSC would remain evenly divided on party lines, with Adler in the chairmanship, until the White House could nominate and the Senate confirm another nominee. However, such a nomination and confirmation would be unlikely in the five months remaining before the November presidential election.

© 2020 Schiff Hardin LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 169
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About this Author

Mike Gentine, Schiff Hardin, Product liability lawyer
Counsel

With experience spanning federal government, private practice, and in-house roles, Mike advises clients on legal and regulatory matters particularly in the area of consumer goods and product safety.

Mike has held multiple positions at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). He served as senior counsel for the Office of CPSC Commissioner Joseph P. Mohorovic from 2014-2017, where he advised on various policy, enforcement, and ethics issues. He led several efforts to reform rules and regulations, including an initiative to reduce the paperwork burden on CPSC-regulated...

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