Trump Labor Department nominee questions key Obama-era rules

© Reuters. Alex Acosta, nominated by President Donald Trump to be Secretary of Labor, testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on Capitol Hill.

By Amanda Becker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US Labor Secretary candidate R. Alexander Acosta told a Senate committee on Wednesday that he would abide by President Donald Trump’s directive to review a pending “fiduciary rule” for investment advisers to retirement, indicating that you think you are going too far.

Acosta told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Commission that the fiduciary rule, which would take effect on April 10 but which the department proposed to delay, goes “far beyond” regulating the conduct of investment advisers. .

The Trump administration directed the department last month to review whether the Obama-era rule, which requires brokers offering investment advice for retirement to put their clients’ interest first, was onerous and out of step. with current White House policies.

Acosta also expressed reservations about another Obama administration rule issued last year that more than doubled the salary cap under which employees would be eligible for overtime pay, from $ 23,660 to $ 47,476 a year.

Acosta said he had “serious doubts whether the secretary of labor had the power to enact this in the first place.”

A federal judge in November blocked the rule, which extended mandatory overtime pay to more than 4 million salaried workers. The Trump administration must decide whether to uphold the rule, and Acosta’s remarks indicated that, if confirmed, he could refuse to do so.

However, Acosta told the senators that was sensitive to the fact that the overtime rules have not been updated in more than a decade.

During the three-hour hearing, Acosta said that while he felt that both Republicans and Democrats had a common goal of protecting the interests of American workers, they may not agree on the best courses of action.

Ultimately, Acosta told the panel, Trump selects the secretaries of the cabinet and assigned them the task of implementing the vision of his administration.

“We work for the president, he is our boss, so all the cabinet officials … will eventually follow his lead unless we feel we can’t and if we can’t, we resign,” Acosta said.

Acosta, a former member of the National Labor Relations Board and dean of the Florida International University School of Law in Miami, was nominated to be secretary of labor in February, a day after Trump’s original election was withdrawn, Andrew Puzder.

Acosta has had a decades-long career in public service and has been through multiple Senate probes for previous appointments, so his nomination is unlikely to derail. If the panel approves, Acosta will stand for a confirmation vote before the full Senate.

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