Federal agencies

Scott Mugno again re-nominated to head OSHA; Heidi King nomination as NHTSA administrator back on the table

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Washington — Scott Mugno’s nomination to lead OSHA was resubmitted to the Senate a second time by President Donald Trump on Jan. 16. The administration also resubmitted Heidi King’s nomination to become the permanent administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Trump administration first nominated Mugno, formerly vice president of safety, sustainability and vehicle maintenance at FedEx Ground, to be assistant secretary of labor on Nov. 1, 2017. He then was re-nominated on Jan. 8, 2018, and retired from FedEx the next month.

Earlier this month, a source close to Mugno told Politico’s Morning Shift that the nominee was “extremely frustrated by the Senate’s inability to get its act together to confirm his nomination.”

For the first time in its history, OSHA has gone at least two years without a permanent head, and Loren Sweatt’s tenure as acting administrator is the longest for the nearly 48-year-old agency.

The logjam in the Senate reportedly stems from Democrats’ desire to confirm Mark Gaston Pearce to the National Labor Relations Board, a move opposed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, among other groups. Democrats also wanted to confirm former Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioner Chai Feldblum to another term over the reported objection of Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), but Feldblum has taken her name out of consideration.

According to reports over the past year, a forthcoming deal was in the works in the Senate to confirm Pearce and Feldblum in exchange for confirming Mugno and other Department of Labor nominees.

Mugno will need another approval from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, but the government’s partial shutdown could delay that. He appeared before that committee on Dec. 5, 2017, and emphasized the importance of teamwork.

“If confirmed, I will work very hard every day side by side with the best safety professionals at America’s ultimate safety department,” Mugno said in his opening statement. “The discussions or debates on how to reach that goal (of safety) can, at times, lead some to believe one side or another doesn’t believe in the goal. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

The Senate’s current makeup would appear more favorable to Mugno’s chances, with Republicans gaining two more seats in the midterm elections, giving them a 53-47 majority.

Meanwhile, King is getting a second chance to lead NHTSA. The deputy administrator was first nominated by President Trump on April 12, and was approved by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on June 27.

King has served as the acting administrator since September 2017. NHTSA has worked without a permanent head since Mark Rosekind stepped down shortly before Trump’s inauguration.

King was the chief economist for the House Energy and Commerce Committee from 2011 to 2013, and was a regulatory policy analyst in the White House Office of Management and Budget from 1998 to 2000 and 2007 to 2011. She also has worked in the private sector for Telecordia Technologies, Pfizer Inc. and, most recently, General Electric, where she was global director of environmental health and safety risk from 2013 to 2016. Additionally, King has served as a California park ranger and a volunteer emergency medical technician.

She will need another approval from the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Unlike DOL, the Department of Transportation is among those affected by the current shutdown.

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