- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 4, 2001

Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott said he would support President Bush to make Mary Sheila Gall a recess appointment to lead the Consumer Product Safety Commission, but the White House said it had no such plans now.
The White House has the authority to dump the Clinton-era chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Ann Brown, in response to Senate Democrats derailing Mr. Bush's own nominee to head the agency. Miss Gall's nomination was defeated Thursday by a Senate panel — making her the first administration nominee to be rejected in the Democratic-controlled chamber.
However, White House officials said yesterday that no decision has been made to fire Mrs. Brown, and Mr. Bush is not expected to appoint Miss Gall to replace her during the August congressional recess period.
White House officials and Senate Republicans are weighing their options to force Miss Gall's nomination to the Senate floor for a full vote after the August recess — despite the Senate panel's rejection.
"We're not going to just say 'sorry about that,' no, we're going to continue working," said Mr. Lott, Mississippi Republican.
"This is a very bad sign for bipartisanship," Mr. Lott said of the setback.
The Senate Commerce, Transportation and Science Committee voted 12-11 along party lines to defeat Miss Gall's nomination. The committee also voted against a measure by Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, to allow the full Senate to vote on the nomination.
"This particular vote was full of partisanship and mean-spirited," said Sen. George F. Allen, Virginia Republican.
"Just as a matter of fairness to the president, they should have allowed the Senate to vote," said Mr. Allen.
A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press that Mr. Bush does not want Mrs. Brown, an ally of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, to continue serving.
The official said White House lawyers have determined that Mr. Bush does have the authority to remove Mrs. Brown as chairman, a position in which she had been confirmed by the Senate, but has made no decision about exercising that power.
"The White House is looking into that matter," said Ari Fleischer, White House spokesman.
Miss Gall was first nominated to the committee by President George Bush and renominated by President Clinton; on both occasions, she was unanimously approved by the Senate.
Mr. Lott said Miss Gall was treated in an unfair and partisan manner and he supports Mr. Bush using a recess appointment.
"I have never seen a case of character assassination worse than this. Miss Gall does not deserve what she's been through," said Mr. Lott.
"This cannot be left alone. This cannot stand," Mr. Lott said.
Mr. Lott said he will decide in the next 24 hours whether he will recommend Mr. Bush use his powers to make the appointment when Congress in on holiday and thus bypass Senate Democrats.
Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, South Carolina Democrat and committee chairman, said Mr. Bush has the authority to make the recess appointment, but this would be a "flip-flop" of attitudes on similar actions during the Clinton presidency.
Mr. Clinton usually consulted with then-Republican leadership officials before making recess appointments. He also usually had their agreement on any such decisions.
"Sometimes we agreed to that recess appointment, sometimes we said, if you do that it will be a breach of good faith and will cause major problems," Mr. Lott said.
Senate Republicans say the current battle, led by Mrs. Clinton, is intended to keep Mrs. Brown as chairman.
On Monday, Mr. Lott asked Mr. Bush to fire Mrs. Brown, whose office, critics say, was leaking information designed to embarrass Miss Gall.
"This is really about personalities and Democrats wanting to keep present chairman Ann Brown in that position," Mr. Lott said.
"I don't think it's going to happen; I think she's going to be removed as chairman," Mr. Lott said.

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