Senate Confirms Eugene Scalia as Secretary of Labor

September 26, 2019 Updated: September 26, 2019

The Senate on Sept. 26 confirmed Eugene Scalia as the secretary of Labor, replacing Alex Acosta.

Acosta resigned in July amid criticism of his role earlier in his career handling a probe into Jeffrey Epstein.

The Senate voted 53-44 to confirm Scalia, 56, the son of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

All Republicans present voted for Scalia’s confirmation while all Democrats voted against it.

In a statement, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said: “After a productive, in-person conversation with him, and an exchange of letters, I feel confident in his ability to lead the Department of Labor with integrity and a service-oriented mindset. His confirmation today is well-deserved.”

“Mr. Scalia has proven time and time again to be an expert in labor, employment, and regulatory law. With an unmatched resume of experience in both the private and public sector, I have no doubt that Secretary Scalia will continue the good work already done at the Department of Labor and build on our growing economy,” added Sen. Tom Scott (R-S.C.).

“I look forward to continuing my conversations with him about South Carolina’s fantastic apprenticeship programs and seeing what we can do to replicate it on the national level.”

Some senators reacted negatively to the confirmation, including Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

“I’m extremely disappointed the Senate confirmed Eugene Scalia as Secretary of Labor. I will fight every day to hold him and the Trump Administration accountable for the harm they’re doing to workers,” Brown said in a statement, while Brown called Scalia “a corporate lawyer.”

Before the vote, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters in a conference call that Scalia’s nomination marks “a gigantic missed opportunity to nominate a fighter for workers,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

“Eugene Scalia’s nomination is a slap to the face of the Labor Department. President Trump could have chosen a union member. Instead, he nominated a corporate lawyer who has spent his career protecting the interests of CEOs, big corporations, the wealthy elite—not workers,” Schumer said on the floor before the vote.

President Donald Trump announced in late August that he would be nominating Scalia to be secretary of Labor.

According to a biography the White House published at the time, Scalia was a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and was a renowned labor, employment, and regulatory lawyer.

Scalia previously worked as a speechwriter to Secretary of Education William Bennett, special assistant to Attorney General William Barr, and in the Department of Labor as Solicitor of Labor, among other jobs. The solicitor role, the third-highest in the department, was during the administration of President George W. Bush.

“There is no finer legal mind in the field of labor and employment law,” Gregory Jacob, a partner with the management-side firm O’Melveny, told the Washington Examiner. “Gene knows the subject, knows the department, and will bring his trademark energy and charisma to implementing sensible reforms to regulations.”

Scalia graduated from the University of Virginia and got his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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