On Wednesday, Ann Marie Buerkle made a surprise announcement that she is withdrawing her nominations to serve as the Chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and to serve an additional seven year term at the agency. As noted in an earlier post, President Trump re-nominated Buerkle in January of this year to be permanent Chairman of the CPSC. This was the third time that President Trump nominated Buerkle for this role. In 2017 and 2018, the Senate failed to vote on Buerkle’s nomination once reported out of committee.
Buerkle has served as the Acting Chairman of the CPSC for two and a half years, since February 9, 2017. She will continue as Acting Chairman until September 30, and will complete the remainder of her current term, which runs until October 27 of this year. Buerkle’s announcement comes as she was awaiting Senate confirmation of her nomination to be Chairman and re-nomination to a new term. Had the Senate voted to confirm, Buerkle would have led the CPSC for another seven years.
The significance of Buerkle’s decision not to pursue a new term is that once she leave the agency at the end of October, the Commission will, once again, have an even 2-2 split of commissioners along partisan lines. This, of course, assumes that the White House will not nominate, and the Senate will not confirm, a new (Republican) Commissioner prior to the expiration of Buerkle’s term. But, if not, the Commission may once again be in limbo or deadlocked with a 2-2 voting “tie.” And, in the absence of the nomination and confirmation of a new Chairman prior to September 30, another “Acting” Chairman will be named, likely Republican Commissioner Dana Baiocco or Peter Feldman.
Companies and consumers alike will eagerly await information on the next nominee. As always, we will continue to update our readers as this dynamic unfolds.