January 26, 2021

Volume XI, Number 26


January 25, 2021

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A New Face at the CPSC? White House to Nominate Dr. Nancy Beck as Chair

As we speculated late last year, the White House has announced that President Trump intends to nominate Dr. Nancy Beck to both the open seat on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the chairmanship of the agency. If Dr. Beck is confirmed, the CPSC would be back to its full five-commissioner strength. Dr. Beck’s confirmation would also shift both the day-to-day management of the agency and its partisan balance, ending both current Acting Chair Bob Adler’s (D) tenure and its 2-2 party split.

Dr. Beck is currently an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staffer detailed to the White House. Before she joined the EPA, she had served as a career federal employee in the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations and as an executive with the American Chemistry Council.

Senate confirmation is a tough challenge for any nominee from any White House, but this one may be tougher than many: Dr. Beck’s industry ties and the prospect of an open CPSC seat awaiting a possible Democratic administration in January will likely increase the stakes. However, given the Senate’s inability in three tries to confirm the previous nominee, then-Acting Chair Ann Marie Buerkle, it seems unlikely the White House would have announced Dr. Beck’s nomination without being reasonably confident she would be confirmed.

President Trump is likely to submit Dr. Beck’s nomination to the Senate in the next few days, followed by a confirmation hearing in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in the next few weeks. If Dr. Beck is reported favorably out of committee, her nomination would then await a vote on the Senate floor. Rules changes last year made confirmation slightly easier – dropping the amount of debate required for each nominee from 30 hours to just two – but there’s still a long list of other nominees awaiting confirmation. As a result, competition for floor time, significant opposition, or institutional inertia can still derail any nomination.

If she is confirmed, Dr. Beck’s term would run through October 2025.

© 2020 Schiff Hardin LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 63



About this Author

Mike Gentine Schiff Hardin Product Liability Lawyer Washington DC

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...