- Alexander Acosta, President Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of Labor, seemed to dodge questions about his would-be department's reduced budget during a hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Commmittee Wednesday, according to U.S. News and World Report.
- Under a recently unveiled federal budget proposal, the DOL would reduce its costs by 21%. Acosta stressed that he had not had the "opportunity to provide input" on the budget decision, but that "my personal perspective is that [the cuts] should not be across the board," calling for a comprehensive analysis of the proposal's impact.
- Acosta also touted apprenticeships and job training programs as part of his plan to help workers, and said he hopes to work closely with the Dept. of Education. Schools, he said, "cannot ignore what the workplace is going to be demanding going forward." He praised federal job training programs for their ROI.
Is there an echo in here? Acosta's answers concerning the Trump administration's budgetary proposal, though obviously reasonable, seem to mirror those of other cabinet nominees who have moved through the process.
Namely, Acosta's insistence that he doesn't necessarily approve of cuts to the Labor Dept., and in fact that he had little input on that decision to begin with, is similar to claims by other picks (i.e. John Kelly, Rex Tillerson) that they had not discussed larger policy issues at-length prior to their hearings.
Whether that fact means anything in the way of what's already been proposed for the DOL remains to be seen. HR professionals, particularly recruiters hyper-focused on certain geographical areas, should keep an eye out for which federal job training programs, if any, are being cut. That could set some progress on skill gaps even further back.
On the other hand, Acosta's acknowledgment of those skill gaps is encouraging, and his particular call-out of apprenticeships is a surefire relief for recruiters, who've already heard about the success stories these programs can create.
Also notable: Acosta wants to update current overtime rules. The Wall Street Journal observed that the law school dean seemed to take a "middle ground" between last summer's FLSA rule changes as proposed by the Obama administration and current regulations. He faced a barrage of questions from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) over his insistence that he would follow Trump's executive order on the fiduciary rule.
Expect a full vote on Acosta's nomination next week.