Monday January 01, 2018
Buerkle and Baiocco Nominations Among Scores Needing Resubmission
The Senate December 27 sent back the nominations of CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle and commissioner-designee Dana Baiocco. However, the action does not mean their nominations are dead. Rather, they were among scores of exceptions to a rules suspension (bit.ly/2BJGDTq) that allows nominations to be carried over from one year to the next.
The number is much higher than for the first years of other recent administrations. Competing explanations involve Democratic obstruction versus legitimate concerns about conflicts and/or qualifications.
For CPSC, the need for resubmission likely will extend the Democratic majority. Buerkle is currently the lone Republican versus the three Democratic members.
The Senated did not disclose who triggered the need for resubmissions (a lone Senator can do so), but in the cases of Buerkle and Baiocco, their confirmation hearings hold hints.
At Baiocco's early November review (PSL, 11/6/17), Sen. Dick Blumenthal (D-Conn.) pushed her to promise to recuse herself on matters involving Mattel, Yamaha, and RJ Reynolds, which she represented as a partner at Jones Day. There also were concerns about her husband's work. Baiocco did provide a letter to CPSC (bit.ly/2A7lzWT) on such matters.
Meanwhile, at Buerkle's earlier hearing (PSL, 10/2/17), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) questioned her aggressively about her interaction with the portable generator industry, including her support of bringing in Patricia Hanz from PGMA to be CPSC general counsel. Nelson went so far as to issue a press release saying that he had "slammed" her.
Buerkle had two nominations: to become actual Chairman and for another seven-year stint as commissioner when her current one ends next October. Baiocco's was to fill the one held by Commissioner Marietta Robinson, whose term officially ended in October although she is able to remain until replaced under the commission's rules.
The commission's makeup is a holdover from the Obama years. There was 3-2 Democratic majority until Republican Joseph Mohorovic left early (PSL, 10/23/17). Now it is 3-1. Baiocco would make a 2-2 tie. Mohorovic's unnamed replacement would create a 3-2 Republican majority.
Because CPSC is an independent agency, presidents cannot simply remove commissioners. Those people serve staggered seven-year terms that overlap presidential terms. Those terms run regardless of whether filled. Thus, the one Baiocco would fill began in October, and Mohorovic's replacement will enter one that ends in 2019.