Inez Tenenbaum had the support of Republican South Carolina Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint. DeMint defeated her in 2004 to win his Senate seat.
Tenenbaum will replace acting chair Nancy Nord, who has been a lightning rod for Democrats in Congress and consumer advocates though defended by Republicans and manufacturers. The embattled agency has been criticized by advocates for being too cozy with industry.
The CPSC, headquartered in Bethesda, Md., has about 430 employees. The agency oversees about 15,000 products.