Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced today that he is appointing Wayne Palmer to serve as the acting head of MSHA. Palmer will serve as MSHA’s deputy assistant secretary on an ongoing basis and will be the acting head of the agency until a permanent assistant secretary is nominated and confirmed.

The White House is expected to announced a nominee for assistant secretary to lead MSHA imminently, as early as this week. The nomination will have to be submitted to the Senate for consideration and confirmation, a process that cannot begin until senators return to Washington following the late summer break.

In the meantime, the new acting MSHA chief brings a significant amount of management and political experience to his new role at MSHA. Mr. Palmer most recently served as Secretary Acosta’s chief of staff at the Department of Labor. He was part of the original “beachhead landing team” at DOL from President Trump’s transition.

He previously worked on Capitol Hill for 13 years, serving as Senator Rick Santorum’s (R-PA) chief of staff and Senator George Voinovich’s (R-OH) legislative director.

Outside of government, he worked as the senior manager for congressional relations at the non-partisan Center for Presidential Transition, focusing on improving the presidential appointment and Senate confirmation process. He also worked as a lobbyist handling healthcare issues.

He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Penn State and a master’s in government administration from the University of Pennsylvania.