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Scalia Nears Labor Secretary Confirmation after Panel Vote (1)

Sept. 24, 2019, 2:37 PMUpdated: Sept. 24, 2019, 3:39 PM

A Senate committee Sept. 24 approved Eugene Scalia’s nomination for labor secretary, setting the longtime management attorney up for a final confirmation vote later this week, according to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 12-11 along party lines in favor of the Gibson Dunn partner and son of former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. McConnell said in statements the morning of the vote that the full Senate will confirm Scalia this week.

Scalia, a former DOL official in the George W. Bush administration, appears to have the necessary support for confirmation. Although Democrats have expressed concerns about his work defending businesses accused of labor violations, the GOP majority is expected to fully back his nomination.

Scalia’s nomination as the new labor secretary comes as the DOL unveiled its long-awaited final rule to extend overtime pay eligibility to an estimated 1 million workers, replacing a stalled Obama-era initiative. The department also is working to finish other major rulemakings on joint employment and a new job training program.

The HELP Committee approved Scalia’s nomination just five days after his confirmation hearing last week. The hearing and the subsequent vote took place despite complaints from the panel’s ranking member Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who said Republican leadership rushed Scalia’s confirmation process without enough time for members to fully vet his lengthy background representing Fortune 500 companies.

Murray said Scalia maintains a “long, alarming record” representing businesses and will just serve as a “yes man” for President Donald Trump rather than as an advocate for workers.

Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said before the vote that he declined Democrat members’ request for additional time.

“I believe it’s fair to vote on Mr. Scalia today,” Alexander said, lauding Scalia’s employment law background.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jaclyn Diaz in Washington at jdiaz@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com