A day after Andrew Puzder withdrew his name for consideration for Labor Secretary, President Donald J. Trump nominated Alexander Acosta, the dean at the Florida International University School of Law, as his replacement. If confirmed, Acosta would be the 13th Hispanic, of either party, to serve in the White House cabinet.
Acosta’s appointment would also ensure that there would be a Latino in the White House, a streak that goes back to 1988 when president George H. W. Bush, a Republican, nominated Lauro F. Cavazos for Education Secretary.
The nomination will now head to the U.S. Senate, where it will await a vote from the Health Education and Labor (HELP) committee. If the committee approves, the nomination would head to a full Senate floor vote. Acosta has been previously confirmed by the Senate three times for a number of positions including serving as a member of the National Labor Relations Board, assistant attorney general for the civil rights division at the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
Acosta has been previously confirmed by the Senate three times for a number of positions
While it’s expected that Acosta will be confirmed with Republicans controlling the U.S. Senate, a number of Democrats are likely to oppose the nomination, largely on ideological and philosophical grounds, as they face growing pressure from the extreme left to oppose President Trump every step of the way.
To be sure, the president’s pick also casts the issue of immigration front and center. As the son of Cuban immigrants, Acosta has expressed support for immigration in the past, including the need to enact comprehensive immigration reform.
In remarks to the Hispanic Leadership Network, a conservative Hispanic organization that has since ceased operation, Acosta told the group: “If there is one thing that I would do is put a clock, a timeline for comprehensive immigration reform…Part of that means figuring out what to do with all of the people that are here.” Acosta goes on to say, “we also need a pathway for future legal immigration…Let’s get it done, and let’s get it done quickly.”
Shortly after the announcement was made, the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), a nonpartisan organization committed to seeing greater participation of Latinos in the American political process, issued a statement in support of the nomination. Arturo Vargas, the group’s executive director, said in part: “If confirmed, Acosta would ensure there is a Latino voice at the table when President Donald Trump convenes his senior advisors in the Cabinet Room to make decisions on behalf of the country.”
“If confirmed, Acosta would ensure there is a Latino voice at the table when President Donald Trump convenes his senior advisors in the Cabinet Room to make decisions on behalf of the country.”
Meanwhile Brent Wilkes, executive director for the League for United Latino American Citizens (LULAC), the largest and oldest Latino civil rights organization in the country said of the nomination to Opportunity Lives, “This is a good choice and it bodes well.”
Wilkes was particularly effusive in Acosta’s support for comprehensive immigration reform saying: “Acosta values immigrants and wants to see hard working immigrants treated fairly.”
Republicans on Capitol Hill have been expressing their support for the president’s pick including the junior senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, who also hails from south Florida. In a statement, the former presidential candidate said: “I know Alex Acosta well, and he is a phenomenal choice to lead the Department of Labor.”
“Acosta values immigrants and wants to see hard working immigrants treated fairly.”
Among one of the goals Acosta would be able to accomplish, if confirmed, is to reverse the Obama administration overtime rule that raised the threshold extending overtime pay to eligible employees. Last year, a Nicaraguan immigrant testified before the Senate committee on small business and entrepreneurship arguing that it raises the cost of doing business and stifles the ability for employees to rise through the ranks.
In remarks making the announcement, President Trump said that Acosta has “had a tremendous career” and will be a “tremendous secretary of labor.”
Israel Ortega is a Senior Writer for Opportunity Lives. You can follow him on Twitter: @IzzyOrtega.