On March 22, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held a confirmation hearing for Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary nominee Alexander Acosta. Acosta was nominated by President Trump after his initial nominee, Andrew Puzder withdrew from consideration. (See WICs article, “Pudzer Withdraws as DOL Secretary Nominee, Acosta Tapped for Position,” February 17, 2017.) Democrats focused on decisions Acosta made in his role within the Department of Justice (DOJ) as well as his stance on Obama-era regulations such as the overtime exemption threshold. Democrats also asked him about the impact that President Trump’s proposed budget cuts of 21% would have on the DOL. In response to questions on the overtime exemption threshold, Acosta said that he agreed that the threshold should change from the threshold set in 2004 of $24,600, but that it should be adjusted to be in line with cost-of-living increases, which would put a more acceptable level of around $33,000. Acosta also signaled that he would revisit the Obama administration’s doctrine on joint employer liability for labor law violations, potentially easing liability incurred by franchisers who exercise indirect control over working conditions.
The HELP Committee will meet in executive session on March 30 to vote on whether to advance Acosta’s nomination to the full Senate for a vote. Video and written testimony from the March 22 hearing is available here.
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