The Senate confirmed Eugene Scalia as the next secretary of labor on Thursday in a 53-44 vote.
Mr. Scalia, a partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and son of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, will fill the position left by Alexander Acosta who resigned in July. Patrick Pizzella, the deputy secretary, has served as acting secretary in the interim.
This won't be the first stop for Mr. Scalia at the Labor Department. He previously served as solicitor — the legal officer responsible for all department litigation and legal advice on rule-making and administrative law — during President George W. Bush's administration.
His nomination was approved Tuesday in a 12-11 party-line vote by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Democrats on the committee said Mr. Scalia's experience in the private sector indicates he will not put workers' interests first as labor secretary. Republicans said he is well qualified and will do a good job leading the department for both businesses and workers.
Mr. Scalia was part of a Gibson Dunn team representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, and other associations in successful challenges to the fiduciary rule, including during oral arguments before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
The Labor Department is expected to issue a new fiduciary rule in the coming months. When asked at a hearing on Sept. 19 whether he would recuse himself from the upcoming rule-making, Mr. Scalia said he would "seek guidance from the designated agency ethics official at the Department of Labor regarding what my ability to participate would be."
Insured Retirement Institute President and CEO Wayne Chopus congratulated Mr. Scalia on his confirmation. "We look forward to working with him and the U.S. Department of Labor to ensure a strong and vibrant retirement security system for millions of American workers so that they can enjoy a financially secure and dignified retirement," he said in a statement.
Similarly, Financial Services Institute President and CEO Dale Brown applauded the confirmation. "He will bring an investor-focused, measured approach to his role leading the Department of Labor, and with his experience, be able to recognize the potential for unintended consequences of rule-making," he said in a statement.