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REGULATION/LEGISLATION

Senate committee confirms secretary of labor nominee

R. Alexander Acosta
R. Alexander Acosta

R. Alexander Acosta was confirmed as secretary of labor by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Thursday.

The committee voted 12-11 along party lines; a full Senate vote is expected soon.

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.

Asked by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., during his confirmation hearing last week whether he supports the proposed fiduciary rule and would stop a delay, Mr. Acosta said he would support President Donald Trump's directions last month to review the fiduciary rule.

Ms. Warren accused Mr. Acosta of dodging her question and told him without straight answers, she didn't have “any confidence (he is) the right person for this job.”

Disagreeing with Ms. Warren, Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., told Mr. Acosta during the hearing that he felt it was “thoroughly reasonable” for Mr. Acosta to review the regulation according to the president's directions after he was named secretary of labor.

Mr. Acosta was Trump's second nominee for secretary of labor. His first choice, Andrew Puzder, withdrew his nomination before his confirmation hearing.

“The secretary of labor should really be called the secretary of the workforce because the issue for workers today is not whether they belong to a union, it is whether they have the skills to adapt to the changing marketplace and to create, find or keep good-paying jobs,” said Mr. Alexander in a news release following Thursday's vote. “We are fortunate to have a presidential nominee for labor secretary who understands how a good-paying job is critical to helping workers realize the American dream for themselves and for their families. After immigrating to Miami from Cuba, Mr. Acosta's parents worked hard to create more opportunities for their son. Alexander Acosta became the first person in his family to go to college and from there has had an impressive career. He's been confirmed by the Senate three times — and I expect that we'll confirm him a fourth.”