(Adds background on Acosta)
By Amanda Becker
WASHINGTON, April 27 R. Alexander Acosta was
confirmed on Thursday by the U.S. Senate to head the Labor
Department, making him the first Hispanic member of President
Donald Trump's cabinet.
Acosta, a former member of the National Labor Relations
Board and dean of the Florida International University College
of Law in Miami, was nominated as labor secretary by Trump in
The Senate confirmed Acosta by a 60-38 vote.
Acosta was expected to have a smooth confirmation process
despite objections from some Democrats and workers groups that
he is too friendly to business. Acosta has had a decades-long
career in the public sector, including multiple Senate vettings
for past appointments, making it unlikely any surprises in his
background would derail his nomination.
Acosta served on the NLRB under former Republican President
George W. Bush, who also appointed him to be assistant attorney
general in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.
He was then appointed U.S. attorney for the Southern
District of Florida, where he went after high-profile defendants
such as Jack Abramoff and UBS, resulting in the
Swiss bank paying more than $750 million in fines for a
Acosta had served as a law clerk to Samuel Alito from 1994
to 1995, when the conservative Supreme Court justice was a judge
at the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Acosta told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor
and Pensions during his confirmation hearing that he had
reservations about key Obama-era labor regulations.
Acosta supported the recent 60-day delay of the Labor
Department's fiduciary rule, originally slated to take effect on
April 10, which requires brokers offering retirement investment
advice to put their clients' interest first.
Trump had directed the Labor Department to review the rule
to determine whether it is burdensome and out of step with
current White House policies.
Also during the confirmation hearing, Acosta expressed
reservations about another Obama administration rule issued last
year that more than doubled the salary ceiling under which
employees would be eligible for overtime pay, from $23,660 to
$47,476 a year.
The rule, which extended overtime pay to more than 4 million
salaried workers, was blocked by a federal judge in November.
Acosta said he had "serious questions as to whether the
secretary of labor had the power to enact this in the first
(Reporting By Amanda Becker; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and