- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 26, 2001

President Bush's nominee to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission withstood tough questioning yesterday by Democrats and vowed to continue her record of limited government regulation if confirmed by the full Senate.
"The law says we must look to voluntary standards first," said nominee Mary Sheila Gall.
"I will not change the way I conduct business by looking at the evidence and looking at the law," Miss Gall said.
Democrats criticized Miss Gall for working with industries to improve standards, rather than imposing mandatory standards. Since 1994, the commission has instituted 23 mandatory regulations and 118 voluntary regulations.
"My response to you is, we use common sense," Miss Gall said.
Miss Gall's nomination hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee lasted nearly three hours with numerous heated exchanges with Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, over specific votes. A committee vote on her nomination is expected before the August recess.
Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, defended Miss Gall's record and called attacks by Democrats a "parade of horribles."
Miss Gall was first nominated to the commission by President George Bush in 1991 and renominated by President Clinton. President Bush has now selected her to head the agency.
Democrats who once supported Miss Gall, including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, are now trying to "derail" her nomination and say she is unfit to lead the agency, Mr. McCain said.
"After casting all of these votes for which she is now being portrayed as a cold-hearted industry pawn, Democrats and Mr. Clinton continued to support Miss Gall," Mr. McCain said.
Miss Gall's two previous nominations passed the Senate unanimously by a voice vote.
"I don't quite understand why there is mounting opposition to this nomination when she is clearly qualified," said Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican.
Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, South Carolina Democrat and committee chairman, said he also voted for Miss Gall in the past but "did not look at her record at that time."
Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, said Miss Gall considers parental behavior before reviewing product safety and "blames consumers rather than the product."
Mrs. Boxer and other Democrats asked Miss Gall to explain her votes on baby walkers, bath seats, and a study Miss Gall criticized about the risks of mothers sleeping with their infants and breastfeeding.
Miss Gall publicly criticized the report about infants sleeping with mothers as inappropriate for the agency to study "cultural" practices that did not involve products.
"We are not the consumer cultural practices commission, we are the Consumer Product Safety Commission," Miss Gall said.
Miss Gall said numerous children were injured when they fell down stairs while in baby walkers, but that an equal number of children are injured every year falling down stairs while not in baby walkers. Rather than mandatory regulations, Miss Gall said, the best solution is safety gates blocking off stairwells to toddlers.
"Keep your common-sense approach, we need more of that in government," said Sen. Conrad Burns, Montana Republican.
When a half-dozen babies reportedly drowned after being placed in a special bath seat, a petition was filed to ban the product. Miss Gall said she initially opposed the move because reports showed the drownings occurred when adults left the child alone. When later reports of parents witnessing seat malfunctions were received, Miss Gall switched her vote in favor of regulations.
Miss Gall angered Mrs. Boxer when she described one drowning as having occurred when a "drunk mother" left the child in the tub long enough for water to overflow the tub, flood the bathroom floor and drip through the ceiling.
"It could be a drunk father," Mrs. Boxer said. "A child doesn't choose their parents; we want the safest product for that child."

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