Brief

UPDATE: Trump nominates Alexander Acosta as labor secretary after Puzder withdrawal

UPDATE: President Donald Trump has nominated Alexander Acosta to be the next labor secretary, according to ABC News. Acosta is the dean of the Florida International University Law School and the chairman of U.S. Century Bank. He previously served on the National Labor Relations Board, as U.S. Attorney for Southern District of Florida and as an assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush. Acosta is the first Latino nominee to the president's cabinet. Trump's announcement followed the withdrawal of Trump's previous nominee, Andrew Puzder, on Wednesday.

Dive Brief:

  • Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination to be the next secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor on Wednesday, according to The New York Times.
  • The fast food executive had come under fire from Democrats and labor groups for his stance on regulatory issues, the minimum wage and opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Puzder also lost some Republican support, and the GOP was reportedly concerned he would not be confirmed by the Senate.
  • Puzder's decision to withdraw came less than a day before his scheduled hearing with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. 

Dive Insight:

The Associated General Contractors and the Associated Builders and Contractors were among a slew of industry and trade groups to send a Feb. 13 letter of support for Puzder to the Senate. The letter cited Puzder's business experience, history of job creation and pro-growth policies as evidence that he would be a successful DOL head.

Upon news of Puzder's withdrawal, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued a statement that praised the move and said it demonstrated "the collective power of working people." The union organization was part of a concerted effort to persuade lawmakers not to confirm Puzder. 

Puzder's withdrawal represented a defeat for the Trump administration and will likely intensify the spotlight on the role of Geoffrey Burr, former construction industry lobbyist, at the DOL. Burr was considered a shoe-in for Puzder's chief of staff and, without a secretary in place, has been a strong influence at the DOL. Burr is a long-time advocate of the open-shop workplace and, along with another anti-regulation DOL staffer, Nathan Mehrens, is an opponent of regulations like the prevailing wage. Trump's placement of Burr and Mehrens in critical positions at the DOL could result in an icy relationship between the administration and trade unions, even though Trump met with union leaders shortly after his inauguration.

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Filed Under: Legal/Regulation
Top image credit: Ed Brown