Following the withdrawal of previous nominee Andy Puzder, the President quickly named former National Labor Relations Board Member and current law professor Alex Acosta to serve as Secretary of Labor. On Wednesday, March 22, 2017, the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing on his nomination. In commencing the hearing, Committee Chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) stated:
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 find and keep a job—to be accurate, to create and keep a job. My generation found jobs. This generation is more likely to have to create their own jobs.
Acosta, who has been confirmed by the Senate for three previous positions, has been viewed far more favorably by opponents of the administration than the previous nominee. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has said:
Alexander Acosta’s nomination deserves serious consideration. In one day, we’ve gone from a fast-food CEO who routinely violates labor law to a public servant with experience enforcing it.
Still, Mr. Acosta faces unsurprising partisan opposition. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), an early opponent of any and all Trump administration action, was fiercely critical of the nominee. Sens. Patty Murray (D-MA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) similarly raised several concerns about his tenure as a United States Attorney during the initial hearing.
The Senate HELP Committee has scheduled a hearing for Thursday, March 30, 2017, at which it is expected they will approve of Mr. Acosta’s nomination and send it to the broader Senate for confirmation.