Acosta Nomination for Labor Secretary Moves to Senate

By Dana Wilkie Mar 31, 2017
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President Donald Trump's pick for Labor Secretary is heading toward a Senate vote.

On March 30, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved Alexander Acosta for the post. The Miami native served in three presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed positions in prior administrations and has a history of prosecuting high-profile figures and targeting white-collar crime.

It's unclear whether the Senate will hold a floor vote on Acosta before a two-week recess that starts April 10. Republicans have said they'd like to get a labor secretary confirmed soon.

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In his confirmation hearing March 22, Acosta said he would review past agency regulations and funding for programs. The controversial overtime rule that was blocked at the end of the Obama administration, he said, should be altered to match inflation—pegging the salary threshold to $33,000. He also wants to assess the efficacy of DOL job training programs, saying "Programs have to be shown to be good. They can't just sound good."

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Acosta is expected to be confirmed with at least some Democratic support, although other Democrats have voiced opposition to his nomination.

HELP Committee ranking Democrat Patty Murray of Washington told the panel that she was "deeply concerned that this nominee does not show willingness to stand up to" the Trump administration or to stand up for "the rights of workers."

Murray released a statement saying she would vote against the nomination because Acosta "deferred to the President and refused to take a strong stand on critical issues including expanding overtime pay to more workers, fighting for equal pay, and advocating for investments in job training and other key priorities of the Department of Labor."

Acosta is a Harvard-educated lawyer, a former assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department and a former National Labor Relations Board member. If confirmed, he would be the first Latino to serve in Trump's Cabinet.

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