- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2001

The chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission said yesterday she will step down in November, but President Bush will likely demote her before she quits.
Democrat Ann Brown, a friend and ally of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, said she intends to leave the CPSC on Nov. 1. Her term does not expire until 2006.
"Nobody would be more pleased than I would if President Bush uses this opportunity to appoint a new chairman who shares his philosophy," Mrs. Brown said in a statement.
The White House indicated yesterday it won't wait for Mrs. Brown to leave the agency.
"Despite her announcement, we've determined we can remove her [as chairman] and we will probably pursue that," an administration source said. "November's a long way away."
Mr. Bush wanted to replace Mrs. Brown as chairman with Mary Sheila Gall, a Republican CPSC commissioner since 1991. But Mrs. Clinton, New York Democrat, led opposition to Miss Gall's nomination, saying it would be like hiring "a lifeguard who can't swim."
The Democrat-led Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee defeated Miss Gall's nomination last week on a strict party-line vote the first Bush nomination to be rejected. One of Mrs. Brown's former top aides at the CPSC worked with committee Democrats to torpedo the nomination.
Senate Democrats criticized Miss Gall for siding with manufacturers on too many cases before the commission, which determines safety standards for products and can recall unsafe products to protect consumers from death and injury.
Miss Gall in 1998 was unanimously confirmed to her second term on the CPSC when nominated by President Clinton. Republicans said this time she was the victim of a "witch hunt."
The White House said last week it does not plan to install Miss Gall with a recess appointment, an option for a president when Congress is not in session. Mr. Bush also could renominate Miss Gall as chairman, but Republican sources would not comment yesterday on the likelihood of a renomination or speculate on other possible nominees.
Mr. Bush, working on a Habitat for Humanity project in Texas, told reporters yesterday he wasn't going to talk about the matter.
"The only thing I've got in mind today is to encourage America to volunteer in their neighborhoods," he said.
Mrs. Brown, who was appointed by President Clinton in 1994, did not say whether she would remain on the commission until November if demoted by Mr. Bush.
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, urged the White House to remove Mrs. Brown as chairman after Democrats defeated Miss Gall's nomination. Senate Republicans over the August recess will consider trying to force Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, to bring up Miss Gall's nomination for a vote by the full Senate, a move he opposes.
"It is clear that we need a new chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission immediately," said Lott spokesman Ronald Bonjean.
"Senator Lott is disappointed that Mary Sheila Gall, who is a clearly qualified candidate, has not been confirmed by the Senate due to personal partisan attacks," he said.
Mrs. Brown and her husband, Donald, a wealthy Florida real estate developer, are big Democratic donors with homes in Bethesda and in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. They have been friends of the Clintons for several years; Mr. Brown even attended a birthday party for President Clinton on Martha's Vineyard.
Federal Election Commission records show the couple has donated nearly $100,000 to the Democratic Party and to individual Democratic candidates since 1992.
Mrs. Brown said when she leaves the commission she will develop a nonprofit foundation called a "Safer America for Everyone" to encourage industry to make products safer.
Before leaving, Mrs. Brown said she has some unfinished business.
These include a major recall, or a lawsuit, of a "very dangerous product" that killed and maimed children, Mrs. Brown said.
She did not disclose which product that was.
She also said she wants manufacturers to redesign baby bath seats to prevent children from drowning, and to develop a new standard for bed rails to prevent children from suffocating when their heads get trapped between the rail and the bed.
"I plan to devote the coming months to working on these very important matters and others," Mrs. Brown said. "What we do at the CPSC is keep families and children safe."
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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