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So far, so good for Alexander Acosta, Donald Trump's first Latino Cabinet nominee

Rob Hotakainen and Jay Weaver, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump's new nominee for labor secretary, Miami law school dean and former U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta, could have a much easier path to confirmation in the Senate than his predecessor, fast-food executive Andrew Puzder.

At least that's the early indication, based on the mostly warm reception Acosta received on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

Washington state Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee, said Acosta would get "a rigorous and thorough vetting" and that she had a few concerns about him, but she didn't specify them.

Murray led her party in raising questions about Puzder's record opposing an increase in the minimum wage, and in drawing attention to the discrimination lawsuits he faced from employees at his Hardee's and Carl's Jr. restaurants. Earlier this week, she called on Puzder to withdraw to avoid an embarrassing confirmation hearing that had been set for Thursday but was abruptly canceled.

Acosta, as a former U.S attorney and a former assistant attorney general for civil rights in the Justice Department, has been through the official vetting and Senate confirmation process before. He also would become the first Latino to serve in Trump's Cabinet.

Democrats and their allies were still celebrating after forcing the first of Trump's Cabinet picks to withdraw Wednesday.

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said, "Working people changed the game on this nomination."

"Unlike Andy Puzder, Alexander Acosta's nomination deserves serious consideration," Trumka said. "In one day, we've gone from a fast-food CEO who routinely violates labor law to a public servant with experience enforcing it ... . We will judge this nominee by the commitment he shows to making life better for working people."

Murray said Americans had made it clear that "they want a true champion for workers as secretary of labor, one who will work for them, not just those at the top."

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio called Acosta "a phenomenal choice."

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