Thea Rozman Kendler and Matthew Axelrod joined the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) as Assistant Secretaries of Commerce. Both were nominated by President Biden and confirmed by the Senate.
Under the Export Control Reform Act, 50 U.S.C. §4852(a), the President must appoint two Assistant Secretaries of Commerce to assist the Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security. The positions were previously held by President Trump’s appointees Richard Ashooh and Jeffrey Kessler. Mr. Ashooh resigned on July 16, 2020 and his position had been open since that time. Mr. Kessler vacated his position with President Biden’s inauguration.
Ms. Kendler assumed her role as the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration on December 20. The Export Administration’s technical professionals control the export of dual-use and military items, analyze the impact of export controls, and support the U.S. defense industrial base. During her confirmation hearing in September 2021, Ms. Kendler pledged to prevent the transfer of sensitive technologies to China, and noted, “I wouldn’t hesitate to impose unilateral controls, if necessary, to keep the United States’ technology out of hands of human-rights abusers.”
Mr. Axelrod began his position as Assistant Secretary of Export Enforcement on December 28. His team of special agents enforce export control laws intended to stop exports of sensitive goods and technologies that could harm U.S. interests. In his testimony in October, Mr. Axelrod noted, “It is an essential function that helps ensure our adversaries don’t have access to dual-use goods and technologies that they can put to malign purposes like terrorism, weapons-of-mass-destruction proliferation, and human rights abuses.”
The press release from BIS is available here.