Murray Urges Confirmation for Department of Labor Nominees to Protect Workers and Retirees
Senator Murray: “Our nation has an enormous challenge ahead to build back from this pandemic stronger and fairer. It’s going to take additional bold relief—which Democrats are continuing to fight for—and it’s going to take experienced leaders like Ms. Gomez and Mr. Rodriguez at key agencies like EBSA and ETA.”
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, led a hearing urging her colleagues to support the nominations of Lisa Gomez to serve as Assistant Secretary for the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) at the Department of Labor (DOL), and Jose Javier Rodriguez to serve as Assistant Secretary for the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) at DOL. At the hearing, Senator Murray stressed the importance of confirming highly-qualified leaders to protect the economic security of workers, families, and retirees and to build back a stronger, fairer economy.
“EBSA and ETA both do critical work to ensure the economic security of families across the country. So I’m pleased to have before us two extremely qualified nominees, who have shown they have what it takes to lead these important agencies,” said Senator Murray in her opening remarks.
In her opening remarks, Senator Murray underscored EBSA’s critical role in addressing threats to families’ benefits and financial security, and noted the agency’s service as a lifeline to workers across the country who receive their health care coverage through their employer. She also highlighted ETA’s key role in helping to fix workforce shortages worsened by the pandemic, and tackling problems affecting our nation’s unemployment insurance system. In order to protect workers, and build back a stronger, fairer economy, Senator Murray urged her colleagues to support working families by confirming Ms. Gomez to lead EBSA and Mr. Rodriguez to head ETA.
“Our nation has an enormous challenge ahead to build back from this pandemic stronger and fairer. It’s going to take additional bold relief—which Democrats are continuing to fight for, and it’s going to take experienced leaders like Ms. Gomez and Mr. Rodriguez at key agencies like EBSA and ETA,” Senator Murray continued in her remarks.
Senator Murray’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:
“EBSA and ETA both do critical work to ensure the economic security of families across the country, so I’m pleased to have before us two extremely qualified nominees, who have shown they have what it takes to lead these important agencies.
“EBSA has the massive task of overseeing more than 700,000 retirement plans, two million health plans, and 880,000 other welfare benefit plans—That’s tens of trillions in assets overall, the management of which has huge consequences for the everyday lives and futures of millions of families across the country.
“The agency also has a critical role to play in addressing threats to families’ financial security, like unscrupulous financial advisors that may put their own interests above the financial security of those who turn to them for help, or the growing array of cybersecurity threats.
“And while Congress passed legislation to address the multiemployer pension crisis—which threatened to cut the hard-earned benefits of millions of workers who did nothing wrong, EBSA faces the challenge of helping retirement plan participants recover the benefits they are entitled to.
“EBSA also enforces critical protections for people who get their health care coverage through their job, such as protections for people with pre-existing conditions; protections enacted in the ACA, including access to free preventive services; and mental health parity and addiction equity law, which ensures health plans cover those benefits at the same level they would cover other medical care.
“And thanks to the law we passed last year banning surprise medical bills, EBSA will help make sure insurance companies can’t leave patients with unexpected, exorbitant medical bills for out-of-network care, and will have additional tools to enforce mental health parity.
“And while EBSA works to make sure the benefits millions of employers provide comply with federal protections, ETA plays another critical role when it comes to providing economic security for workers and their families.
“It is charged with addressing our nation’s workforce needs, and works to do this by providing high quality job training and employment programs, administering worker dislocation programs, tracking labor market information, and supporting unemployment insurance and other state programs through federal grants.
“During the COVID-19 crisis we’ve seen how unemployment insurance programs are a critical lifeline for workers when their financial security is upended, but also how we urgently need to modernize our unemployment insurance system so relief isn’t delayed by outdated infrastructure.
“ETA has been at the forefront of these efforts.
“And as we work to recover from this pandemic, it also has a key role to play to help our nation address workforce shortages this pandemic has exacerbated in so many fields.
“Our nation has an enormous challenge ahead to build back from this pandemic stronger and fairer.
“It’s going to take additional bold relief—which Democrats are continuing to fight for, and it’s going to take experienced leaders like Ms. Gomez and Mr. Rodriguez at key agencies like EBSA and ETA.
“I look forward to hearing from both of you about the challenges ahead, and how we build an economy that truly works for working families.
“Now I’ll turn it over to Ranking Member Burr for his opening remarks.”
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