Trump to nominate acting FTC chief to judgeship: White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The acting chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, Maureen Ohlhausen, has been put on a list of people that President Donald Trump intends to nominate to a judgeship, the White House said on Tuesday.

Ohlhausen said she was “honored” by the planned nomination to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, where companies and people bring complaints against the U.S. government.

“I will continue to serve at the Federal Trade Commission until a time when I may be so fortunate as to be confirmed to the Court of Federal Claims,” she said in a statement.

Trump said in October he intended to nominate Washington antitrust lawyer Joseph Simons, a Republican, to replace Ohlhausen as head of the FTC.

A White House spokeswoman said on Tuesday that this was expected to occur in the near future.

“We expect the Senate to have his official nomination very soon and to confirm him swiftly,” Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement.

The agency has had just two commissioners for the past year. The FTC has five seats, and no more than three can be from one party.

Trump has also said that he would nominate Rohit Chopra, a former official at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to be a Democratic member of the FTC.

Another White House spokeswoman said that Chopra’s nomination was also expected to be sent to the Senate shortly.

The expectation is that the two men would be confirmed before Ohlhausen leaves, according to a government official who spoke on background.

If not, only Terrell McSweeny, a Democrat, would remain.

Under the FTC statute, one commissioner can make decisions because there is no quorum requirement, the government official said.

The agency works with the Justice Department to enforce antitrust law and investigates allegations of deceptive behavior by companies.

It is currently reviewing a number of big mergers in industries where there are already few players.

One is a deal to merge industrial gases companies Praxair Inc and Linde AG. It will also decide if lens maker Essilor International SA will be allowed to merge with dominant frame-maker Luxottica Group SpA.

Reporting by Diane Bartz and Eric Walsh; editing by Grant McCool