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Republicans agency leaders block action that would halt deaths of babies

Baiocco_Dana CPSC Commissioner Bios_Cards

Dana Baiocco, federal safety commissioner

In late September, two Republican members of the commission that oversees the safety of the nation’s consumer products voted to eliminate items from the agency’s annual plan that would have developed new mandatory rules for preventing suffocation in infant cushions.

A rule on carbon monoxide poisoning from gas appliances and a pilot project to look at the safety of online products also were scratched.

The anti-consumer action was possible because appointments to the five-member Consumer Product Safety Commission, the agency that protects the public from injury or death from thousands consumer products, are being held up in Congress.

Of about 4,000 top political appointments in the executive branch and independent agencies, about 1,200 require Senate confirmation as part of its “advice and consent” responsibilities under the U.S. Constitution.

The president nominates candidates then the nomination needs to pass through several steps, a referral to at least one Senate committee, a committee hearing, and a vote on the Senate floor.

President Joe Biden has selected 409 nominees to fill key positions; 239 are being considered by the Senate and 166 have been confirmed, according to the Partnership for Public Service, an organization that works for better government.

Two Democratic nominations to the commission are being held up, which means they weren’t serving on the commission in late September, allowing the two Republican members to drastically amend the agency’s annual plan, according to an article in The Washington Post.

One of the two Republican who blocked the important actions of the commission, Dana Baiocco, was appointed by former President Donald Trump. Before serving on the commission, Baiocco was a partner at Jones Day, a law firm that has worked for many Republican candidates including Trump and his affiliated organizations.

During Baiocco’s confirmation hearings, parents and consumer advocates pointed out that she represented clients the commission regulates such as ATV maker Yamaha, according an article on the website The Intercept. Baiocco also defended R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Volkswagen AG, chemical manufacturer Daikin Industries, and Honeywell Safety Products in a World Trade Center lawsuit, the article said.

Peter Feldman, the other Republican commission member who amended the commission’s annual plan, worked for Republican members of Congress.

On Oct. 7, President Biden’s appointment of Alexander Hoehn-Saric as chair of the commission was approved by the Senate.

Now the balance of the commission is two Democrats and two Republicans, a tie until Congress appoints the fifth member.

Senators can hold up these appointments, even just one senator, for any reason. An example is Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., who said he’s blocking several Biden nominations for the State Department, according to an article in The Washington Post.


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