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Biden Faces Decision to Re-Up Wage-Hour, Employee Benefits Picks

Dec. 21, 2021, 6:49 PM

A pair of nominees for leadership roles at the U.S. Labor Department, including the pick to be the nation’s top wage-hour official, must be renominated in the new year, raising the likelihood of greater delays.

David Weil, the Biden administration’s choice to serve as Wage and Hour Division administrator, and Lisa Gomez, the nominee to run DOL’s employee benefits agency, were among a list of federal executive branch nominees who weren’t allowed to remain in pending status when the Senate left for its holiday recess.

That means the White House will have to nominate them again when Congress returns in January. A senior aide on the Senate labor committee confirmed that Weil and Gomez would have to be renominated, along with Elizabeth Watson, the pick to be the Labor Department’s liaison on Capitol Hill.

That raises questions about whether President Joe Biden will renominate Weil—who is deadlocked in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee—or consider a pick who may have a greater chance of an expedient confirmation.

Weil’s nomination attracted concern from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a crucial vote in the evenly split Senate. The labor committee voted 11-11 on Weil in early August, and he’s been in a holding pattern ever since. Republicans criticized his record of wage-hour enforcement when he held the same post during the Obama administration, arguing that he supports policies that they contend stifle franchising and independent contracting.

Manchin’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on his current position on Weil, who is a dean at Brandeis University. A Labor Department spokesman declined to comment.

Gomez, nominated to lead the DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, prompted questions from GOP senators about the agency’s plan to take regulatory action on environmental, social, and corporate governance factors in retirement investing. That delayed a committee vote, though she was eventually advanced to the full Senate by a 12-10 tally earlier this month.

Watson, a former senior aide on the House Education and Labor Committee, was nominated in April to be the Labor Department’s assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental affairs. She has yet to receive a vote in committee.

The Senate confirmed a number of federal agency nominees on Dec. 17 and the following day, but no labor picks made the cut. The chamber is adjourned for formal business until Jan. 3.

Editor’s Note: Lisa Gomez is co-chair of the Board of Senior Editors for Bloomberg Law’s Employee Benefits Law treatise.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paige Smith in Washington at psmith@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Lauinger at jlauinger@bloomberglaw.com

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