Acosta Nomination Could Move Forward by March 30

From labor disputes cases to labor and employment publications, for your research, you’ll find solutions on Bloomberg Law®. Protect your clients by developing strategies based on Litigation...

By Tyrone Richardson

A Senate committee is expected as early as this week to move Alexander Acosta a step closer in his nomination to lead the Labor Department, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) told Bloomberg BNA March 28.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, chaired by Alexander, will hold an executive session March 30 to discuss the nomination of Acosta. If the committee votes to recommend his name that day, it will be sent for a full Senate vote, Alexander added.

Some Democrat and Republican lawmakers on the 23-member HELP committee March 28 told Bloomberg BNA they were still undecided on the Florida International University law dean. Acosta has previously been confirmed by the Senate three different times, including for jobs as a Justice Department official and National Labor Relations Board member.

The March 30 meeting comes days after the HELP committee March 22 held a confirmation hearing for Acosta. Although he dodged several questions about specific policy positions during the hearing, Acosta did say he was open to updating overtime eligibility requirements.

Acosta replaces fast food mogul Andrew Puzder, who withdrew his name for consideration amid controversy.

Confirmed Before Senate Recess?

It wasn’t immediately known March 28 if the Senate would schedule a floor vote before the April 10 recess. Republicans have said they’d like to get a labor secretary confirmed soon to make up for the time lost before Puzder withdrew his nomination.

Alexander March 28 said that “it will be up to” Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell if a floor vote comes before the two-week long recess.

“Hopefully there will be,” Alexander said, when asked about a vote before the break. “He certainly performed well at his hearing and hopefully he will attract Democratic support in the committee and the floor.”

Acosta has garnered support from some Republicans who are eager for an ally to help undo some Obama-era regulations, such as the overtime rule. He also has support of at least one Democrat: Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.) who represents his home state.

HELP committee members such as Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) have publicly voiced support for Acosta. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told Bloomberg BNA March 28 that he was “likely to support him.”

“I think he’s qualified enough for the job,” Scott said.

Committee Members Still Reviewing Acosta

At least a handful of committee members March 28 told Bloomberg BNA that they’re still undecided on Acosta.

That includes Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). “I had a good meeting with him in my office, but one never knows what issues can arise, as we found out with the previous nominee,” she said.

Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy (Conn.) and Tammy Baldwin (Wis.) separately told Bloomberg BNA that they were also on the fence.

“I’m still evaluating,” Baldwin said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tyrone Richardson in Washington at trichardson@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com; Christopher Opfer at copfer@bna.com

Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.