President Trump has announced he plans to nominate law school dean and former National Labor Relations Board member Alexander Acosta to become Secretary of Labor.
The Feb. 16 announcement came a day after former Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder withdrew his name from consideration in the wake of waning support from Senate Republicans who must confirm cabinet appointments.
Acosta is the dean of the Florida International University College of Law.
He was a George W. Bush appointee to the NLRB from 2002 to 2003, when he was appointed assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. After leaving that post, Acosta was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida from 2005 to 2009.
Puzder withdrew his name from consideration for the DOL's top spot on Feb. 15.
Earler that day, several high-ranking Senate Republicans urged the White House to pull Puzder’s nomination, fearing he wouldn’t be able to win support from enough Republicans to be confirmed. Four Republican senators were reported to be planning to vote against Puzder, and that number could have grown to as many as 12, CNN reported. That would have left Puzder at least two votes shy of a tie that could only have been broken by Vice President Pence.
Puzder was to testify Feb. 16 before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
After failing to block President Trump’s nominees for Attorney General and Secretary of Education, Senate Democrats set their sights on Puzder as the cabinet pick most likely to succumb to partisan pressure.
Sen Elizabeth Warren, D–Mass., one of Puzder’s most vocal critics in the Senate, on Feb. 13 sent him a 28-page letter demanding answers to 83 questions. Its purpose, Warren wrote: To “determine whether you are indeed qualified for this position.”
Since 2004, the Department of Labor has closed 108 wage-and-hour investigations of franchises affiliated with CKE Restaurants, the fast-food company Puzder heads. CKE is the parent company of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fast-food chains.
Among Warren’s questions: “How do you explain your company’s numerous violations of?”