- Alexander Acosta was confirmed by the Senate late Thursday to serve as the secretary of labor, the final member of President Trump's cabinet, according to multiple reports. The vote came two days before Trump's first 100-day mark was reached.
- Trump's first nominee, Andrew Puzder, dropped out of consideration after facing numerous controversies, including allegations he hired a housekeeper not authorized to work in the U.S.
- Acosta once served as assistant attorney general in the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division under President George W. Bush and is a former member of the NLRB.
Even when pressed during confirmation, Acosta said little about his views or stances on labor policy. He has largely followed Trump administration rhetoric when it comes to putting Americans back to work and seems to be a strong believer in apprenticeships. He's mentioned the importance of allying with the education department to fix some skills gaps — something that manufacturing leaders have noticed as well.
If anything, though, Acosta stands out for who he is not. As early as mid-January, news outlets reported Puzder had been rethinking his nomination for labor secretary. Senate leaders postponed his nomination hearings several times, and Puzder prolonged the filing of mandatory ethical and financial statements required of cabinet nominees. Many cast doubt on his ability to run the department that his company had been investigated by in the past.
As expected, pro-enterprise groups view Acosta's rise favorably. Labor policy expert Trey Kovacs of the Competitive Enterprise Institute lauded Acosta's work on the Justice Department and NLRB, and said that his first priority needs to be "to end the all pain, no gain governmental policies that limit worker choice and hamstring American employers." Those policies include the overtime rule, which is still pending, and the fiduciary rule, which will likely be harder to kill.
Pro-labor groups continue to express doubts about his role as Trump's man at Labor. Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, noted that the group continues "to have serious concerns about some of Mr. Acosta’s responses during his confirmation hearing — as well as questions left unanswered" but notes that with a DOL secretary finally in place, the organization's advocacy work can start once again.