WASHINGTON (AP) —President Donald Trump announced Alexander Acosta as his new labor secretary nominee on Thursday, one day after his original pick abruptly withdrew from consideration.
Fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder pulled out of the nomination on Wednesday after it became clear he lacked the votes to win Senate confirmation.
If confirmed by the Senate, Acosta would become the first Hispanic member of Trump’s cabinet. He currently serves as dean of the Florida International University College of Law.
Acosta previously served on the National Labor Relations Board and as a federal prosecutor in Florida. Former President George W. Bush appointed him assistant attorney general for civil rights in 2003.
Republicans expect Acosta’s confirmation in the Senate to go smoothly, as he was previously confirmed at the federal level for those three positions.
A number of Republicans had complained about the stream of “distractions” surrounding Puzder’s nomination, including criticism about his personal life and his record as CEO of CKE Restaurants Inc., parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., among others.
Ultimately, Republicans also made it clear that Puzder lacked the votes in a chamber narrowly split between Republicans and Democrats. There was scant, if any, praise for his vetting.
After Trump’s election, Puzder admitted to employing a housekeeper who was not authorized to work in the U.S.
Puzder said he fired the employee about five years ago but did not pay the related taxes until after Trump nominated him on Dec. 9. Puzder said he paid the taxes as soon as he found they were owed. There was no explanation as to why he didn’t know of the taxes owed or pay them during the intervening years.
Spokesman George Thompson said Wednesday that Puzder did not tell the White House about the housekeeper issue until after he had been nominated.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Lamar Alexander, who would have chaired Puzder’s confirmation hearing Thursday, issued statements praising Puzder’s qualifications but saying they “respect” his decision.
Puzder fell to a relentless series of attacks from Democrats, labor and other groups that opposed him on ideological and personal grounds. They contended that his corporate background and his opposition to such proposals as a big hike in the minimum wage made him an unfit advocate for American workers and unsuitable as the head of an agency charged with enforcing worker protections.
A date has not yet been set for Acosta’s confirmation hearing.