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Chemical safety nominee receives praise

Senators widely praised President Obama's new pick for the Chemical Safety Board, Kirsten Kulinowski, during a hearing Wednesday before the Environment and Public Works Committee.

The president tapped Kulinowski to join the five-person board that investigates chemical accidents following the resignation of the last chairman.

Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyDemocrats to offer bill to expand Supreme Court Hillicon Valley: Supreme Court sides with Google in copyright fight against Oracle | Justices dismiss suit over Trump's blocking of critics on Twitter | Tim Cook hopes Parler will return to Apple Store Democrats press Facebook on plans for Instagram for kids MORE (D-Mass.) introduced Kulinowski, calling her a "highly technically qualified candidate" and urged his colleagues to back her nomination.

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"She is not a politician," added Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerBottom line Trump administration halting imports of cotton, tomatoes from Uighur region of China Biden inaugural committee to refund former senator's donation due to foreign agent status MORE (D-Calif.), the committee's ranking member. "She is a scientist. That's something we need."

The former CSB chairman, Rafael Moure-Eraso, resigned in March under pressure from the White House and lawmakers, following allegations that he broke the law and was a dysfunctional leader. An investigation is looking into those allegations.

Despite the friendly tone, lawmakers pressed Kulinowski on the challenges the agency faced.

Kulinowski vowed to continue that probe if confirmed and said she would help return the beleaguered agency's focus.

"The knowledge that many major accidents could have been prevented drives me to continue to work in this area," she said. 

In a lighter moment, Kulinowski pointed out her husband and daughters in the audience. Committee Chairman Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - US vaccine effort takes hit with Johnson & Johnson pause Biden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Biden defense budget criticized by Republicans, progressives alike MORE (R-Okla.) said, "Have your daughters stand up. They’re cute,” leading to laughter as her family briefly stood.

Kulinowski has been a research staff member of the Science and Technology Policy Institute since 2011. She holds a doctorate in Chemistry and is an adjust assistant professor at Rice University. 

If confirmed, she would serve a five-year term.

This story was updated on July 16 at 12:32 p.m.