The U.S. Senate has confirmed Christopher Williamson as assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. His confirmation was secured with seemingly little scrutiny from the Senate, which did not hold a public hearing on his nomination.
Williamson does not have direct experience in the mining industry, but he has served as an attorney-advisor to the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. He also worked for a time at the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in the Obama administration in an advisory role.
His most recent position has been as senior counsel for the National Labor Relations Board. He previously served as labor counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and prior to that, as a legislative assistant to Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV).
Williamson graduated from West Virginia University College of Law in 2010, earned a master of public policy degree from American University in 2007, and obtained a bachelor of arts degree in political science and economics from West Virginia University in 2005.
Williamson takes the helm at MSHA at a time when the agency is adding personnel and undergoing organizational changes. The White House’s recently released fiscal year 2023 budget includes a request of nearly $423.5 million for MSHA. This is $40 million more than current funding (an 11.5 percent increase), with $33 million of that increase slated for enforcement activities. MSHA also has underway significant rulemaking activities addressing surface mobile equipment safety and respirable silica.