Yesterday, President Trump announced his intention to nominate Dr. Nancy Beck as Chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Dr. Beck’s nomination had been rumored amongst product safety stakeholders ever since the Washington Post profiled Dr. Beck in December and raised the likelihood of her nomination. This nomination is significant as it will restore the Republican majority (3-2) on the five member commission assuming the Senate confirms Dr. Beck to the chair in the coming months.
For those unfamiliar with Dr. Beck’s background and credentials, she currently serves as the Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Prior to her appointment at the EPA, Dr. Beck was Senior Director for Science Regulatory Policy at the American Chemistry Council. The White House’s announcement also highlighted Dr. Beck’s work in federal government as a career employee in various capacities at the EPA and Office of Management and Budget during the Bush and Obama Administrations.
Notably, once confirmed, Dr. Beck will restore the 3-2 Republican majority on the Commission that had been lost when former Acting Chair Ann Marie Buerkle departed the agency on October 1, 2019. Not only will the Republican majority be restored, but the chair will no longer be held by a Democratic commissioner—Robert Adler. As we reported in September, prior to her departure from the agency, Acting Chair Buerkle voted with Democratic commissioners Adler and Kaye to install Commissioner Adler as the interim chair of the Commissioner. Such a change in the political leadership of the CPSC will certainly have an impact on agency priorities and practices.
With impeachment proceedings in the rearview mirror, we expect Dr. Beck’s nomination to begin working its way through the Senate rather quickly with at least a committee hearing. Of course, the Democrats may well seek to delay consideration of the pending nomination through procedural maneuvers until after the election. Moreover, we expect fierce opposition to the nomination from key Senate Democrats such as Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Ed Markey (D-MA). Although the House does not have a formal role in the nomination and confirmation process, the Chairman of the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), immediately issued a scathing statement in opposition to the nomination.