Confirmation hearings for Andrew Puzder, President-elect Trump’s nominee to become secretary of labor, were set to take place Jan. 12 before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Sen. Patti Murray of Washington, the ranking Democrat on the HELP committee, promised tough questioning of Puzder. President-elect Trump “ran his campaign telling people he was about jobs and workers,” Murray said in a statement. “Our responsibility is to make sure that we know what we are buying and the country knows what they bought.”
Despite Democratic skepticism, Puzder is expected to easily win the HELP Committee’s endorsement and confirmation by the full, Republican-controlled Senate once Trump takes office on Jan. 20.
Puzder is a vocal opponent of raising the minimum wage, thepromulgated but never implemented by the Obama administration and government regulation in general.
He once argued that the Afford-able Care Act caused a recession in the restaurant industry, forcing consumers to pay more for health care and leaving them less to spend on dining out.
A Puzder-led Department of Labor would likely tack to the right on key wage-and-hour issues, including:
Minimum wage: The DOL is unlikely to push Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, leaving any increases up to states and municipalities.
: Puzder will probably direct the DOL to drop its pending appeal of a federal court injunction that stalled new overtime regulations that were to go into effect last December.
Independent contractors: The Obama administration had begun taking action to treat independent contractors more like employees. Expect Puzder to put the brakes on that plan. It is unlikely that contractor misclassification will be a big part of the DOL’s enforcement agenda.