04.26.17

Murray Raises Concerns about Acosta’s Ability to Stand Up for Workers and Remain Independent as Secretary of Labor

In nomination hearing, Acosta said he will not stand up to Trump – LINK

 

Murray urged colleagues to vote against a nominee who refused to commit to standing up to Trump Administration’s anti-worker policies

 

Murray: “We need a Secretary of Labor who will prioritize workers and the mission of the Department of Labor over special interests and political pressure”

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, urged her colleagues today vote against President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, citing his refusal to commit to standing up for workers and not bend to political pressure from the Trump Administration and their anti-worker policies.

 

Key excerpts of Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“When workers and families fought back against President Trump’s first disastrous pick for Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, they made it clear they want a Secretary of Labor who will fight for their interests, especially as President Trump continues to break promise after promise he made to workers on the campaign trail. And I couldn’t agree with them more that as bad as Puzder would have been—our standard can’t be ‘not Puzder.’”

 

“I have serious concerns, given Mr. Acosta’s professional history, about whether undue political pressure would impact decision-making at the Department. My concerns were only heightened at his nomination hearing, when Mr. Acosta said he would defer to President Trump on the priorities of the Department of Labor. M. President, the Trump Administration has already cemented a reputation for flouting ethics rules and attempting to exert political pressure over federal employees. We need a Secretary of Labor who will prioritize workers and the mission of the Department of Labor over special interests and political pressure.”

 

“We need a Secretary of Labor who will remain committed to core principles of the Department of Labor. Someone who will prioritize the best interests of our workforce, enforces laws that protect workers’ rights, safety and livelihoods, and seeks to expand economic opportunities for workers and families across the country. Unfortunately, M. President, Alexander Acosta has failed to show that he will stand up to President Trump and prioritize these principles and help workers get ahead.

 

 

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:

 

Thank you.

 

M. President—when workers and families fought back against President Trump’s first disastrous pick for Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder…

 

They made it clear they want a Secretary of Labor who will fight for their interests—especially as President Trump continues to break promise after promise he made to workers on the campaign trail.

 

And I couldn’t agree with them more that as bad as Puzder would have been—our standard can’t be “not Puzder.”

 

M. President, never has it been so critical to have a Secretary of Labor who is committed to putting workers’ protections and rights first—even if that means standing up to President Trump.

 

It is with this in mind that I cannot support Alexander Acosta to run the Department of Labor.

 

I have serious concerns, given Mr. Acosta’s professional history, about whether undue political pressure would impact decision-making at the Department.

 

My concerns were only heightened at his nomination hearing, when Mr. Acosta said he would defer to President Trump on the priorities of the Department of Labor.

 

M. President, the Trump Administration has already cemented a reputation for flouting ethics rules and attempting to exert political pressure over federal employees.

 

We need a Secretary of Labor who will prioritize workers and the mission of the Department of Labor over special interests and political pressure.

 

Unfortunately, Mr. Acosta’s time leading the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice suggests he will not be the mission-focused Secretary of Labor workers across the country have demanded.

 

A formal investigation by the Inspector General showed that under Acosta’s tenure, the Civil Rights Division illegally considered applicants’ political opinions in making hiring decisions, ignoring their professional qualifications.

 

And as Assistant Attorney General, Acosta chose to recuse himself from consideration of a Texas redistricting plan—instead allowing political appointees to overrule career attorneys who believed the plan discriminated against black and Latino voters.

 

M. President, Mr. Acosta’s past raises questions about whether, instead of making workers’ rights and protections the priority of Department, he will allow political pressure to influence his decision-making.

 

Mr. Acosta’s refusal to take a strong stand on many of the most pressing issues workers face today was equally concerning.

 

We need a Secretary of Labor who is committed to expanding overtime pay to more workers, fighting for equal pay, and maintaining protections for workers.

 

But in responding to questions about these priorities, Mr. Acosta made it clear he plans to defer to President Trump—who has already made it abundantly clear that he will not stand up for workers.

 

Mr. Acosta continued to evade addressing my concerns about how he would prioritize workers’ interest at the Department of Labor in follow-up questions.

 

We need a Secretary of Labor who will remain committed to core principles of the Department of Labor.

 

Someone who will prioritize the best interests of our workforce…

 

Enforces laws that protect workers’ rights, safety and livelihoods…

 

And seeks to expand economic opportunities for workers and families across the country.

 

Unfortunately, M. President, Alexander Acosta has failed to show that he will stand up to President Trump and prioritize these principles and help workers get ahead.

 

Therefore, I urge my colleagues to listen to the millions of workers who have made their voices heard about the need for a Secretary of Labor who is committed to building an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top…and vote against this nomination.

 

Thank you, M. President, I yield the floor.