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Law school dean nominated to be labor secretary

R. Alexander Acosta
R. Alexander Acosta

With R. Alexander Acosta nominated to be the next secretary of labor, some industry experts are watching to see how he might affect recent efforts to delay the Department of Labor's fiduciary rule.

Mr. Acosta is dean of Florida International University College of Law and chairman of the board of U.S. Century Bank in Doral, Fla. He is a former assistant attorney general in the civil rights division under President George W. Bush, and former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida. He also served on the National Labor Relations Board.

His nomination as labor secretary was announced by President Donald Trump on Feb. 17, one day after Mr. Trump's first nominee, Andrew Puzder, withdrew.

The Department of Labor is awaiting a response from the Office of Management and Budget on its Feb. 9 proposal to start the delay process, and Mr. Trump directed the secretary of labor in an executive memorandum to reconsider the rule with a new economic and legal analysis. Financial services groups support delaying the rule to allow for that review, and to coordinate efforts with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Dennis Kelleher, president and CEO of Better Markets, a non-profit advocacy group for financial markets, said that for now, “there's more about the nominee that we don't know than what we do know. But, if he respects the law, facts and evidence and decides matters on the merits, not ideology or Wall Street talking points, then he will uphold DOL's years of careful deliberation.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said Mr. Acosta's nomination “is off to a good start because he's already been confirmed by the Senate three times,” and the committee will schedule a nomination hearing promptly.

This article originally appeared in the February 20, 2017 print issue as, "Law school dean nominated to be labor secretary".