Trump's Pick To Run The Consumer Product Safety Commission Has Stalled, Says Senator

Nancy Beck, a former chemical industry lobbyist opposed by environmental and consumer groups, "doesn't have the votes," the senator told HuffPost.
Nancy Beck testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on June 16, 2020.
Nancy Beck testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on June 16, 2020.

WASHINGTON ― Nancy Beck, President Donald Trump’s controversial nominee to run the Consumer Product Safety Commission, doesn’t have the votes to get confirmed, a key senator told HuffPost.

“It’s dead for now,” the senator said of Beck’s nomination. “That could change, of course. But as of right now, she doesn’t have the votes.”

The senator, a member of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, where Beck’s nomination is stuck, requested anonymity in order to speak freely.

HuffPost reported last month that Beck’s nomination was in jeopardy after Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a committee member, announced her opposition. That put the committee vote count at a 13-13 tie if every other Republican voted yes and every Democrat voted no. A tie would almost certainly mean Beck would not advance.

Every Democrat on the committee but one, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), has said publicly that they’ll vote no. Sinema’s office did not respond to a request for comment. But there’s no reason to believe that she would vote for Beck given how strongly nearly every environmental and consumer advocacy group you can think of opposes her.

Beck, a former chemical industry lobbyist named to a top post at the Environmental Protection Agency under Trump, has been rewriting chemical safety rules to make them less protective of consumers and more friendly to businesses.

She’s drawn particular criticism over her record on perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, a class of toxic chemicals found in many consumer products and in firefighting foam used at military bases. They are linked to various cancers and other diseases, decreased fertility and birth defects. According to documents obtained and released by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Beck was the driving force behind a White House effort to weaken a final EPA rule on PFAS. She even asked the agency to create a special loophole for importers of PFAS-tainted products.

That’s why Capito is opposing her.

“Dr. Nancy Beck’s record as it relates to PFAS chemicals, as well as her responses to my questions and the questions of other Senators at yesterday’s Commerce Committee hearing have led me to conclude that she is not the right person to lead the Consumer Product Safety Commission,” Capito said in a statement last month. “The CPSC chairman should be someone who applies the proper balance between protecting public health and the environment and the needs of our economy. I will vote against Dr. Beck’s confirmation in both the Commerce Committee and on the Senate floor.”

Beck may not have the support of other Republicans on the committee, either. Aides to Republican Sens. Thom Tillis (N.C.), Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Dan Sullivan (Alaska), all of whom are committee members and some of whom are in tough reelection campaigns, did not respond to HuffPost’s repeated requests for comment on whether they plan to vote for Beck.

Alexis DeJarnette, a spokesperson for Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), who chairs the committee, wouldn’t say why Beck’s nomination wasn’t on the agenda for the committee’s latest hearing when it otherwise should have been. She also wouldn’t say when or if the committee planned to vote on Beck.

“The Commerce Committee is continuing to review and evaluate the hearing record on Nancy Beck’s nominations to be commissioner and chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission,” said DeJarnette.

At least one Republican who isn’t on the committee has already said she’s a no vote: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

“Based on her record at the Environmental Protection Agency and at the White House, I do not believe that Dr. Nancy Beck’s views on chemical safety, including on PFAS substances and asbestos, align with the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s mission,” Collins said in a statement. “I plan to oppose her nomination to lead the CPSC.”

A White House spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

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