Donald Trump’s administration is infamously understaffed, and he seems to be having particular trouble filling the crucial post of Labor Secretary after his nomination of choice, fast-food chain CEO Andrew Puzder, was undone by sharp critiques from left and right.
His replacement pick, Alexander Acosta, is already facing major heat from a prominent Democratic Senator, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Warren just sent a 23-page letter to Acosta ahead of his confirmation hearing asking him poignant questions about his record as a Justice Department official under ex-president George W. Bush.
“My staff’s review of your record has raised several concerns regarding your qualifications for this position. In particular, your tenure in the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice (DOJ) raises serious concerns about whether you are capable of running a large government agency independently and without undue political influence,” Warren writes.
“Under your watch at DOJ, the Division was embroiled in a politicized hiring scandal actively orchestrated by your Deputy, and, in an investigation of your tenure at the Division, the Inspector General concluded that you ‘did not sufficiently supervise’ your own deputy,” she adds. “Your management of the Civil Rights Division created a corrosive environment for the career attorneys dedicated to protecting the civil rights of all Americans.”
Strong words. You can read more on that scandal here. Warren’s letter makes clear the atmosphere will not be friendly when Acosta does face his next Senate confirmation hearing. His first hearing was on March 15.
“I am also concerned about how you will respond to President Trump’s plan to cut more than 20% of the Department of Labor’s budget,” added Warren.
“These draconian cuts will hobble your ability to run core parts of the agency, including the divisions that investigate and enforce the federal health and safety standards that keep workers safe on the job and the federal wage and hour laws that ensure that workers are paid fairly.”