On Monday, President Trump nominated Ann Marie Buerkle, who has served as Acting Chair of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission since February 9, 2017, to serve as permanent Chair of the Commission. The appointment is for a term of seven years beginning on October 27, 2018 when her current term expires. Acting Chair Buerkle’s statement on her nomination can be read here.

This nomination must be confirmed by the Senate. Even if confirmed expeditiously (and that is a big if), the current minority-majority political dynamic at the Commission will not change until President Trump is able to appoint a third Republican Commissioner once Commissioner Marietta Robinson’s term expires in October later this year.

Acting Chair Buerkle’s regulatory philosophy and priorities for the Commission have been well documented, including in our prior blog posts. In fact, she reiterated some of those thoughts as they pertain to product recalls in opening remarks at the CPSC’s Recall Effectiveness Workshop yesterday, July 25. Acting Chair Buerkle stated that the Commission and its staff:

  • need to continue engaging all product safety stakeholders and listen to ideas, problems, and solutions concerning product recalls;
  • should not have a “one size fits all” approach to product recalls;
  • should not expect recalling companies to bankrupt themselves in undertaking a voluntary product recall; and
  • should look at proportionality and risk when effectuating a product recall.

Acting Chair Buerkle concluded her remarks by stating that the most effective way to prevent consumer injury is not through product recalls, but through preventing unsafe products from entering the market in the first instance.

We expect Acting Chair Buerkle to be confirmed in the coming months and wish her congratulations on the nomination.