By Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump nominated Republicans Noah Phillips and Christine Wilson to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Thursday, and sent their nominations to the Senate for confirmation.
The White House also sent to the Senate two other FTC nominations that the president announced last year: Republican antitrust lawyer Joe Simons to be the chairman of the commission and Democrat Rohit Chopra, a veteran of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to be a commissioner.
The FTC works with the Justice Department to enforce antitrust law and investigates allegations of deceptive behavior by companies. The agency has five commissioners; only three can be from one party.
The agency is currently headed by acting Chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen, a Republican, with Democrat Terrell McSweeny the only other commissioner.
Ohlhausen has been nominated to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. McSweeny's term ended last fall, but she has stayed on pending confirmation of a replacement.
Phillips is the chief counsel for Senator John Cornyn and a veteran of the major law firms Steptoe & Johnson LLP and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, according to his profile on the LinkedIn.com career website. He graduated from Stanford Law School in 2005.
Wilson, a former chief of staff to former FTC Chairman Tim Muris, is a senior vice president for regulatory and international affairs at Delta Air Lines Inc and is a veteran of the law firms Kirkland & Ellis LLP and O'Melveny & Myers LLP, according to her LinkedIn.com account.
Simons, Trump's pick to be the FTC chairman, is a partner at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. Simons was competition director at the agency from 2001 to 2003.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau alumnus Chopra, who Trump tapped to fill the empty Democratic seat on the commission, is currently at the Consumer Federation of America.
The agency is 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 whether lens maker Essilor International SA will be allowed to merge with dominant frame-maker Luxottica Group SpA.
It had been expected that Phillips would be nominated in October. The decision not to nominate him came about the same time that Cornyn vociferously battled the administration for more aid for Texas after Hurricane Harvey and put a hold on the nomination of Russell Vought to be Mick Mulvaney's right hand man at the Office of Management and Budget.
Cornyn said in a statement that Phillips was dedicated and "will be a big asset to the commission."
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Jonathan Oatis and Daniel Wallis)