- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 25, 2001

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is opposing the nomination of Mary Gall as chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, despite her appointment to the commission by President Clinton.

Miss Gall was first nominated to the commission by President George Bush in 1991, and renominated by Mr. Clinton in 1999 for a seven-year term. President Bush nominated her in April to head the commission.

"I have expressed my concerns about her record on the commission, and I think it would not be a good decision to elevate her to the chairmanship since the chairman sets the agenda for the commission," Mrs. Clinton told The Washington Times.

Mrs. Clinton said she did not find it awkward to oppose one of her husband's nominees, saying Miss Gall was "part of a deal."

"She was always the Republicans' nominee, and it was part of large deal with a lot of people, and she wasn't being nominated to be the chairman. And I don't think that would have occurred in the prior administration. She was usually outvoted, thankfully," Mrs. Clinton said.

Republicans discussed the opposition at their weekly policy lunch yesterday in preparation for today's Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee nomination hearing for Miss Gall.

"It appears Democrats are launching an all-out effort to defeat her, but maybe it will misfire," said Sen. Larry E. Craig, Idaho Republican, after the meeting.

Opponents of Miss Gall criticize her 10-year record on the commission and her votes against particular safety regulations.

They say she blames parents rather than products for child injuries.

The particular votes Mrs. Clinton and other Democratic critics point to occurred before Miss Gall was renominated by Mr. Clinton and are part of the public record.

"Those concerns were not raised when she was nominated by Mr. Clinton. I'm sorry it escaped his attention," said Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and ranking member of the commerce committee.

Mr. McCain, who labels Miss Gall as "pro-consumer," supports her nomination. "I believe the president should have the right to select his team unless there is an overriding reason not to," he said.

The federal agency Miss Gall would head sets safety regulations and orders recalls on consumer products.

Opponents are critical of her votes against government regulations on baby walkers, baby bath seats, bunk beds and upholstered furniture.

Miss Gall, explaining her 1994 vote against baby walker rules, said, "The problem here is not with the walker, but with the failure of those entrusted with caring for small children to exercise appropriate supervision."

Democrats who once supported Miss Gall say they were not aware of her record on regulations.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said he did not recall whether he voted for Miss Gall, who was twice confirmed unanimously by voice vote in the Senate. "I wouldn't be surprised if I did because I didn't know her record at the time," Mr. Daschle said.

"I don't believe that she is qualified as a person to head the product safety commission. I think that her record speaks for itself. And while I certainly believe she deserves a fair hearing and a vote, I intend to oppose her," Mr. Daschle said.

Republicans rallied to Miss Gall's defense and trumpeted her record.

"She is a very diligent member and clearly qualified to be chairman," said Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican. "I don't know why certain people are trying to make a big issue over her nomination," Mr. Lott said.

Republicans say Miss Gall's confirmation will be a true test of fairness for Mr. Bush's nominees.

Miss Gall's confirmation is a top priority for Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican. He and Mr. Craig are employing procedural strategies to force nominees through the Democrat-controlled Senate. "This is not a partisan issue, but an urgent need," Mr. Kyl said.

Sen. Don Nickles, assistant minority leader and Oklahoma Republican, said Miss Gall has a "proven track record" and, despite opposition, "I expect she will be confirmed."

• Dave Boyer contributed to this report

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