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No OSHA Head This Session

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Barring a last minute Christmas miracle on Capitol Hill, the odds of having an Assistant Secretary for OSHA this year have gone from slim to pretty much none, according to Politico: “A deal to push through a slate of labor nominees appeared all but dead Thursday as lawmakers raced to avert a shutdown.”

As we’ve written before, the confirmation of Scott Mugno to head OSHA, as well as several other Labor Department appointees, remains mired down in a fight between HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and Republicans who don’t want to confirm Democratic nominees for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC.) Utah Republican Mike Lee continues to refuse to confirm Chai Feldblum for the EEOC, calling her “an [LGBT] activist intent on stamping out all opposition to her cause.”  Lee previously stated that he fears Feldblum would “use the might of government to stamp out traditional marriage supporters.””

Republicans also oppose the re-appointment of Democratic nominee Mark Pearce to the NLRB.

Meanwhile, Daniel Gade, who has been caught in the fight and had been waiting for confirmation as EEOC Commissioner for 16 months, has withdrawn his name from consideration.

If a Christmas miracle is not forthcoming, President Trump will have to renominate everyone, and they will then have to be re-approved by the HELP Committee and confirmed by the Senate. But will things get any better in a new year, while Republicans continue to hold the Senate? Does Scott Mugno still want the job? Will Loren Sweatt continue her lonely existence atop OSHA?

Stay tuned.

This blog was originally published at Confined Space on December 21, 2018. Reprinted with permission. 

About the Author: Jordan Barab was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor at OSHA from 2009 to 2017, and spent 16 years running the safety and health program at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).


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