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Bush's Nominee for CPSC Rejected in Closed-Door Vote

Aired August 2, 2001 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Mary Sheila Gall, President Bush's nomination to head up the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Our Jeanne Meserve in Washington, following this story to tell us what's happening today -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Donna, the question is, did a baby bath seat help send a presidential nomination down the drain, or was it just old-fashioned politics that did in Mary Sheila Gall's nomination to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The Senate Commerce Committee rejected her nomination on a closed-door vote. It went along party lines. Eleven voted for her, the 12 Democrats voted against. There was a second move to bring the nomination to the floor, even though the committee had rejected it. That too went down on a party-line vote.

Gall, who remains a commission member, had a rough time from Democrats at her July 25th confirmation hearing. She explained her view that voluntary recalls worked and that parental neglect was responsible for problem with some products.

Commissioner members do not vote on recalls, but Gall resisted efforts on a number of items, including baby bath seats, bunk beds, baby walkers and fireproof pajamas. These positions led Democrats to complain Gall would not be strong enough a consumer advocate and to reject her nomination.

Republicans are already charging that party politics did her in. Today, they said this had been a witch-hunt. Senator John McCain called this a smear campaign. Some are blaming Senator Hillary Clinton, who is a friend of the current chairman, Ann Brown.

The White House press secretary Ari Fleischer yesterday had a few comments about the situation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's just hard to understand how all senators can be for Mary Gall when she's nominated by President Clinton, and then be against her when she's nominated by President Bush. Either it's a flip-flop of historic proportions, or it's partisanship, and it looks like it may be both.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MESERVE: Democrats had a response this morning. They said this is not about politics, it's about the issues. They said that Ms. Gall was for the companies rather than the consumers.

Donna, back to you.

KELLEY: Jeanne, I don't know if you had time to check, or if you know whether or not they try somebody else now, or do they try to get Gall through again?

MESERVE: I don't know the definitive answer on that. But for the time being, Ann Brown will remain as chairman of the commission. She is a Democrat, as I mentioned. She is close to Hillary Rodham Clinton. For now, she will stay in the position. Unclear what the future on Gall would be, although I suspect, this only from my gut, that having gone down along party-line votes, they probably will not try this one again.

KELLEY: All right, Jeanne Meserve, thanks, as usual.

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