Dana Baiocco Confirmed as New CPSC Commissioner
After a lengthy process that involved two committee hearings and a re-nomination, lawyer Dana Baiocco was confirmed by the Senate as commissioner at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for a seven-year term. Baiocco, a Republican, replaces Democrat Marietta Robinson, an Obama appointee whose term expired in October 2017. (Under the agency's statute, a commissioner whose term has expired may continue to serve for up to a year or until a replacement has been confirmed for the seat.)
Baiocco, who was nominated by President Trump in September 2017, failed to receive Senate confirmation by the end of the Senate session that ended last year. Under Senate rules that Democrats refused to waive (breaking with typical protocol), her nomination was returned to the president along with that of CPSC Acting Chair Ann Marie Buerkle. In January 2018, President Trump re-nominated both Baiocco and Buerkle.
Several Democratic senators and some consumer groups expressed concern over Baiocco's potential conflicts of interest, since, as a former partner with a law firm, she represented manufacturers. In September 2017, Baiocco sent a letter to the CPSC's special counsel stating that she would recuse herself from any matters involving former clients, but still faced a bumpy road in committee hearings. The Senate approved her nomination to serve on the Commission by a 50-to-45 vote, mostly along party lines (the only Democrat to vote in favor of her nomination was Sen. Joe Manchin (WV)).
Baiocco's confirmation will result in an even split of two Republican and two Democratic Commissioners with one seat open for another nominee. Senate action is still needed to confirm the nomination of Buerkle to serve as permanent chair and to serve another full term on the Commission. (Buerkle's current term formally ends this coming October, although she is also likely have a hold-over year.)