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Alexander Acosta
  Labor Secretary Nominee Outlines Policy Priorities at Confirmation Hearing  CSPAN  March 22, 2017 8:34pm-11:23pm EDT

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leadership of the united states senate will see this as a friendly challenge to begin to open their proceedings. >> the gentleman's time has expired. >> the marriage of this median and our open debate has the potential, mr. speaker, to revitalize representative democracy. in 1986y the cable industry launched c-span2 to carry the senate wide. all our congressional coverage is ar cast live and searchable for free at c-span tv, radio, online are provided as a public service of our cable and satellite affiliates across the nation. coming up on c-span3, the confirmation hearing for labor secretary nominee alexander acosta. then the moore versus government, the challenge about the mississippi state flag and then joe manchin holds a town
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hall meeting in morgantown and then later, peter navarro. next, the confirmation hearing for alexandria acosta, president trump's new candidate to be the next labor secretary. mr. acosta was nominated after andrew put ner withdrew his nomination. this labor health committee meetimeet meeting is 2 hours, 45 minutes.
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senate committee on public health and education will please come to order. we're holding a meeting on mr. acosta for secretary of labor. we will have an opening statement and then introduce the witness. after our witness testimony, senators will each have two five minute rounds of questions. just ten years ago in 2007, steve jobs announced that apple had reinvented the mobile phone, just 10 years ago.
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a microblogging company named twitter gained its own separate platform and started to scale globally and amazon released something called kendall all that in 2007 ten years ago the same time ibm began to build a computer called watson that in a few years defeated contestants on the jeopardy tv show and then sequencing in genomes started falling from 100 million in 2001 to 1,0$1,000 in 2015 and a new k "new york times" columnist tom friedman puts his finger on the year, 2007, just 10 years ago, as quote the technological inflection point and uses the term great acceleration for all the technological changes simultaneously across the globe and argues we're living through one of the great inflection points in history as a result
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of. added that ball state's findings that automation is responsible for the loss of 88% of manufacturing jobs and globalization add that. social cultural and climate changes in terrorism you get a big mismatch between the pace and average ability of the american worker to keep up and fit into the accelerating forces shaping the workplace. a few weeks ago a group of senators sat around in a forum and listened to very smart scientists talk about their advances in artificial intelligence. after it was all over, one senator asked where are we all going to work? tom friedman says probably the most important governance challenges the need to develop learning systems, training systems, management systems, social safety net and government regulations to enable citizens to get the most out of these accelerations and cushion their worst impacts end quote. one of the federal government's
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chief actors in this drama of acceleration should be the secretary of labor. in fact, as many have suggested and the house of representatives have done the title for which alexandria acosta has -- alexander acosta was nominated should be secretary of the workforce. it is down to 7%. the issue not whether they belong to a nonion, whether they have the skills to adapt to a changing marketplace and find and keep a job. to be accurate, to create and keep a job. nitrogenrati my generation found jobs, this generation likely has to create their own jobs. in his inaugural address, president trump said he heard from forgotten men and women to fit into the changing world. president obama said he heard the same voices too many in inner cities and rural counties
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left behind, he said. what can we do about it? most important thing, work with employers and colleges and community institutes and improve the ways those earning two year degrees or more. georgetown university says by 202065% of the jobs in this country will require some college or more. at the rate we're going, georgetown predicts the united states will lack 5 million workers with an adequate post-secondary education by 2020. unfortunately too many of the federal government's actions over the last few years have made it harder for american work others to keep up, adjust and create and find and keep a job. to begin with the obama administration unleashed a regulatory avalanche that held jobs back. president obama issued 130% more rules than the previous administration's labor department, average of 85 major rules with more than 1$100
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million impact on the economy compared with president bush's 62 a year. take the overtime rule. in my state its cost would add hundreds of dollars per student in college tuition and force small businesses to reduce the jobs that provides stability families need or joint employer rule and attack on franchising or fishedry rule that makes it -- finiudishry rule. one at a time mandates on job creat creators. the equal employment opportunity commission eeo1 forms providing employers to provide to the government 20 times as much information on how they pay workers. there's the ridiculous complex fas sa i know the dean is well aware of, the federal aid application form that turns away from college many of the people who ought to be going and affordable care act that defined
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full time work only 30 hours, forcing employers to reduce their workers hours or reduce hiring all together. many like the persuader rule that chills the ability of employers during organizing activities seem destined for labor unions. we're fortunate today to have labor nominee for undersecretary to understands a good job is critical to help workers realize the american dream for theirselves and their families. senator rubio and cruz will introduce him in detail so i will not. i do want to recognize after immigrating from miami to cuba, mr. acosta's parents worked hard to create opportunities for their sony the first person in his family to go to college and assistant attorney general for the justice department, u.s. attorney. dean of international florida's
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law school. his school's president describes him as conscientious, thoug thoughtful, says he doesn't overreach and he's already been confirmed three times by the united states senate. mr. acosta, we welcome you today and i look forward to hearing more on your ideas about how to help american workers adjust to the changing conditions in our workforce. senator murray. >> thank you very much, chairman alexander. mr. acosta, thank you for being here and to you and your family for your willingness to serve. the department of labor is at the heart of one of president trump's core campaign promises which was to put workers first. d.o.l. pry ortises the best interests of our work force enforces laws that protect workers' rights, safety and livelihoods and seeks to expand economic opportunity to more workers and families across our country.
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i would hope any president would share those basic goals but especially one whose made so many promises about fighting for workers. i was very surprised when president trump selected an due pastner, a fast-food worker for secretary of labor. we heard story after story from people who worked at his restaurants about lost wages and mistreatment. i was deeply concerned as secretary of labor his history of offensive comments and marketing campaigns would signal it's acceptable to objectify and marginalize women in the workplace. he was uniquely unqualified for this role and i'm frankly relieved he won't have the opportunity to serve in it. just because president trump's first selection for secretary of labor was so deeply unacceptable that doesn't mean we should lower our standards because workers and families across the country certainly are not. they made very clear they want a
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secretary of labor who will stand up for the core mission of the department and fight for their interests, someone who will be an advocate within this administration for workers if president trump continues down the path of breaking promise after promise to those he said he would help. with this in mind, mr. acosta, i have serious concerns about your nomination i want to ask about today and in written follow-up questions. firsty the trump administration has alreadycemented reputation for flouting ethic rules and attempting to exert political pressure over federal employees. i expect our next secretary of labor to be someone who can withstand inappropriate political pressure and prioritize workers in the mission of the labor department over hypothetically speaking mr. trump trump's, associations or mr. bannon's frightening ideology.
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a history of your review sugg t suggests when you led the civil rights division at the department of justice you at best ignored an extraordinary polarization of the work and at worst actively facilitated. a formal investigation by the inspector general showed under your tenure, higher in the civil rights division systematically favored conservative applicants over those who appeared to be more liberal regardless of their professional qualifications. as assistant attorney general you chose to stay silent on a proposed texas redistricting plan instead of allowing political appointees to allow long-time appointees who believe it discriminated against black and latino voters. and late the district court determined it did violate the act. you later sent a jim crow challenger law four days before the 2004 presidential election
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although the justice department had no role in that lawsuit. by the end of your time at the civil rights division, prosecutions for crimes related to gender and racial discrimination had declined by 40%. all together these actions suggest a pattern of allowing political pressure to influence your decision making on issues that should rise above partisanship. to me, this raises questions about your commitment to defend the civil rights of all workers which, of course, is fundamental to the role of secretary of labor. mr. acosta, i'm also very interested hearing more from you about your vision for this department and specifically where you stand on a number of key issues. it will be heavily engaged in over the coming years. president trump has spoken out against the updated overtime rule, which would help millions of workers get pay they earned. our federal minimum wage has fallen far far behind workers'
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needs. women still make less than their male counterparts, an economic drain on our country that is especially pronounced for women of color. that president trump's wrongheaded cruel immigration executive order is causing undocumented workers not to come forward for back wages and protections they are owed. i feel strongly we need to ensure undocumented workers are safe and receive fair treatment, especially in this time of heightened fear and uncertainty. these are all challenges i expect the secretary of labor to be committed to working on, and i'll be very interested in your thinking and plans on each because, again, the secretary must be an independent voice for workers who will push back on the president's agenda to hurt working families. dol also plays a pivotal role in making certain there are consequences when companies dis criminate or threaten employees' safety on the job.
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it supports job training and the development of new career pathways for unemployed workers, over sees the quality of retirement programs impacting millions of workers nationwide, collects and publishes independent foundational data about our economy and workforce through the bureau of labor statistics and much more. in other words, the ability of this department to operate effectively has enormous impact on workers, on families and on our economy. so i'm concerned about president trump's proposal to cut more than 20% of the dol budget. it is difficult to see how the department could maintain, let alo alone improve, its performance were such dramatic cuts to go into effect. under the president's budget, workers would pay the price for a budget designed to help those at the top which is unacceptable, so i will want to hear how you as someone who would be responsible for carrying out the critical work of this kdepartment view the
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president's proposal. i'm looking forward to your testimony and your responses on these and many issues and i hope we receive clear and thorough answers. i firmly believe that workers should have a strong advocate at the department of labor, and that is what i will continue to push for. thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator murray. now we welcome senator rubio and senator cruz, we'll invite each of you to introduce mr. acosta. then i know both of you have other commitments and so you're welcome to stay or welcome to go to your other commitments after that. we'll move to his statements. so senator rubio. >> thank you. mr. chairman, thank you to the ranking member for an opportunity to be before the committee today. it is my honor to be able to introduce mr. acosta and wholeheartedly encourage the committee and senate to support his nomination to be our next secretary of labor. i begin by saying i know alex well. he's a fellow floridian. as a native of miami, i've been familiar with his work for many, many years and later i came to know him personally as well. as i said when the president nominated him, i think he's an
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outstanding choice to lead the department of labor. he has a sterling record of public service to our state and country. you'll learn about that today as you see not just in your materials but his testimony as well. he was a member of the national labors relations board. appointed by president george w. bush from '02 to '03. from there he was selected by president bush to serve as assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, the u.s. department of justice where he also served as the principal deputy assistant attorney general in that office. beginning in august of 2013. but the two places i would refer you and the place i watched the most closely and most proud of his work, the first is he was the u.s. attorney in one of the most challenging districts in country, florida's southern district. and i encourage you to look at the numerous cases and the complexity of many of these cases that fall under their jurisdiction, in particular during his time there. most recently he served as the dean of florida international university's college of law where he has been instrumental in getting the school off the
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ground after its recent founding. he's raised its profile and it's begun to graduate well-prepared young men and women for their careers. florida international university is a place that i know well. i actually have been an adjunct professor there for over ten years. where a significant percentage of the students, not just at the law school, but in the school in general, are the first in their family to ever attend or graduate from college. has a higher percentage of such students than virtually any other college or university in america. and under his constitute lidtut leadership, fsu opened the door for hundreds of young people who would have had to do what i did, take on significant student loan debt in order to get their jurisdictijusris doctor degree. with every challenge he's confronted throughout his distinguished career, alex has continuously demonstrated his ability to effectively tackle the problems at hand with ease.
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he's a brilliant, brilliant legal mind, someone with deep knowledge of labor issues. and a proven leader and manager for these reasons and many more, i'm confident alex acosta will serve the nation admirably. i'm proud to introduce him to the committee today and urge you to support his nomination. i think you, mr. chairman, the ranking member for this opportunity. >> thank you, senator rubio. senator cruz, welcome. >> thank you, mr. chairman, ranking member, members of this committee. it is a privilege to be before you today and have the opportunity to introduce my friend, alex acosta. i've known alex for 25 years. he and i went to law school together. we've been friends a long time. there's a lot you can know about alex from looking at his resume, looking at his bio. you can know that he's smart, that he's academically accomplished. that he's led a life of public service, making a difference in the lives of others. but one of the things you know getting to know someone over the course of 2 1/2 decades is you
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learn their character. and i can tell you that alex is a man of character. a man who takes very seriously fidelly lity to the law, fidelo the constitution, and a man who has a passion for justice. alex began his legal career as a law clerk for justice samuel alito on the third circuit court of appeals. he worked in a variety after of locations and three times confirmed by the united states senate. he was confirmed as a board member on the national labor relations board. he was confirmed as the assistant attorney general for the office of civil rights. and he was confirmed as the united states attorney for the southern district of florida. all three of those positions are very challenging positions. as each of you know, those are not easy assignments. those are assignments that almost by their nature guarantee
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that there's going to be conflict, there are going to be difficult and important issues presented to whoever is entrusted with leading those offices. and one of the remarkable things about alex is that he has been able to lead each of those offices with an impeccable record. a record of distinction. but also a record of inclusion. alex in leading those offices has demonstrated an ability to bring people together, even if they have disparate political or ideological backgrounds, to bring them together behind a shared vision and a shared commitment to justice. that is an important characteristic in any position. it's been an important characteristic in his role as the dean at florida international university school of law, which as marco described, is a school that is expanding opportunity to a great many people who would never have
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had the opportunity otherwise. that's yet another demonstration of alex's passion for justice, stepping down as u.s. attorney. he could have cashed out. there would have been plenty of law firms in florida that would have offered him a seven-figure check and he could have lived in a nice house and driven a big car and had a very, very comfortable life. but he chose, instead, to be dean of the law school. to make a difference in the lives of students. to those of us who've known alex a long time, that is not surprising. that is entirely consistent with the course of his entire life. i'll also tell you on a personal level, alex is a surprisingly good poker player. and not nearly as good a squash player. and one additional observation, alex is a cuban-american.
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he understands firsthand how incredible the miracle of freedom is. how incredible this country is. the beacon of freedom that it has served to the world. that is an appreciation that i think is important in any government position, but as secretary of labor, the mandate of secretary of labor, the kind of secretary of labor i expect alex will be will be a champion for working men and women. a champion for people who want jobs, who want more job, who want higher wages, who want more opportunity. someone who will fight for the working men and women of this country. i will say i take perhaps particular pleasure in the observation that i suspect this is one of the first times, if not the only time, that this committee has had three cuban-americans seated before it
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and it is a testament of the opportunity that our wonderful nation provides. i commend to you alex acosta who i think will make an excellent secretary of labor. >> thank you, senator cruz, and senator rubio, thank you both for coming. we'll now move to -- you're welcomed to go to your other hearings at whatever time you choose to. mr. acosta, we welcome you and your family. you're welcome to introduce your family if you'd like. we'd be glad to have your statement then we'll begin a round or two of questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ranking member murray. members of the committee. i thank you for the opportunity to appear before you this morning. i know today's a busy day in the senate and there are other ongoing hearings, and so thank you, it's an honor to be here as
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president trump's nominee to be secretary of labor. i want to take a minute to thank senators marco rubio and ted cruz for their very kind introductions. as both noted, i've known them for many years. i appreciate their support and i deeply admire and respect their dedication to public service. i'm also grateful for their support today because my family was unable to be here. my wife, jan, is an amazing woman, a fantastic mother. i'm deeply grateful for her love and her unending and unyielding support. my eldest daughter, dalia, is in first grade and there's something called an iowa test which is a standardized test that's she's undergoing this week, so my wife is with dalia and with my 5-year-old, rosalia, who's going to be in kindergarten next year back in miami. i don't know if they're watching. i know my girls aren't watching.
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my wife may or may not be. but i really want to reach out to them and thank them for everything that they do for me. i want to thank my parents, in particular, and my parents are very important to me not simply because of what they've done for me, but because my story really begins with them and informs my perspective on what it means to be a secretary of labor. they fled cuba. they came to the united states seeking freedom and they found it. they met in miami in high school. they fell in love. they married young. my mother was in here te teens she found out she was pregnant. neither attended college. growing up, they struggled. my mother started out as a typist at a real estate firm. at times, she commuted 9 0 minutes each way for her job. my father served in the army.
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later he tried to start a small business but he quickly found his lack of higher education, his lack of ability to deal with forms and rules made it very difficult for him to be a small businessowner. and so he went on to hold various jobs and ended his working life as an inventory clerk at a cell phone store. our family lived paycheck to paycheck. my grandmother cared for me while we grew up and that was an incredibly helpful and loving thing to do because both my parents worked full time. at times, may parents went into debt, deep debt. the kind of debt that they tell you not to go into because credit card interest rates are high. but they went into that debt and they took on second jobs to make ends meet. and they did that because they wanted to give me an education. and so i'm here because of them. and my success is very much their success.
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they were able to give me these opportunities because even though they didn't have a college education, they had something very important and that's a job. and though at times they lost their job, they were always able to find another job. and that was very important. well today, americans are facing the same challenges and struggles, but for many americans, only worse. my parents had jobs, but not all americans have jobs. some americans have seen their jobs go overseas. some americans have seen their jobs filled by foreign workers. and i've read and i've seen press reports that not only have they been filled by foreign workers but to add insult to injury, they've been asked to train their foreign replacements. and some americans have seen that jobs are available but that these available jobs require skills. th they do not have. helping americans find good j s
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jobs, safe jobs should not be a partisan issue. in my visits with each of you with each member of this committee, it was crystal clear that every member of this committee wants americans to find jobs. good jobs. safe jobs. even if you don't all agree on the how. i share this with you, we may not always agree on the how, but at least let us begin by agreeing on the need. if confirmed, i hope to benefit from an ongoing dialogue with each of you as to how we can advance these goals within the context of, as the chairman mentioned, a global economy that is changing rapidly with each passing year and with the constraints of limited resources. i'd like to close with a brief discussion of a few items in particular. the first is the skills gap. as i visited with members of this committee, i repeatedly heard that in your states, there are jobs but the skills too often are not there.
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in one of your states, for example, a community college was teaching welding techniques, and it turns out that the employers are no longer using that welding technique so why are they teaching an outkadated techniqu? that is not how you teach skills. we can and we must work to reduce that skills gap. we need to make better efforts to align job training with the skills the market demands and the increasingly changing market will demand of its workers. especially as advancing technology changes the types of jobs that are available in our economy. the department of labor cannot do this alone. it has to work with local governments, with industry, with educational institutions, public/private partnerships that can have substantial positive impact on the american workforce. this is the vision of the workforce innovation and opportunity act, of apprenticeship programs, and of many other programs not only at dol but across government.
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if confirmed, i will work with you to maximize every taxpayer dollar that is directed toward job training programs. second, good jobs should also be safe jobs. congress has enacted workplace standard and safety laws. the department of labor enforces these. and if confirmed, i will work to enforce the laws under the department's jurisdiction fully and fairly. as a former prosecutor, my enforcement efforts will always be on the side of the law. it's enacted by congress. it should be enforced fully. it should be enforced fairly. and it should not be enforced in favor or against any particular constituency. finally, the department of labor was formed a bit more than 100 years ago and it's an interesting history because originally it was a department of commerce and labor and then it was split into two. and so why was it split? and the reason was this. that a voice for commerce and a
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voice for workers, or a workforce, as the chairman mentioned, within the executive branch, would promote better decisionmaking. i think this concept is absolutely correct. advocates for the american workforce within the administration are important. whether it's those who are working, those who still seek work, those who are discouraged or unemployed, or those who have retired, if confirmed as secretary of labor, part of my job will be to be one of those advocates. president trump has reached out to both business and to labor in his first 100 days. i'm proud to have the support both of several dozen business groups and also of several private sector and key public safety unions who remember with respect my work at doj and the norb. they know that while we did not always agree, i was always willing to listen and to think and to consider and to seek out
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principled solutions. if confirmed, i hope that we, this committee, and the executive branch, can work together in the same way to address the need for good jobs and safe jobs and in particular access to training and the skills that the changing workplace will demand of its workforce. i thank you for your consideration and i look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you, mr. acosta. we'll now begin a round of five-minute questions and if senators wish, there will be a second round of five-minute questions. mr. acosta, let's start with the skills gap that you spoke about. if we were to think of you, as i think we should, as secretary of the workforce, to help workers in this headspinning environment that we find ourselves in, adjust to it and fit into it, we already spent a lot of money on helping people get training. we spend more than $30 billion in pell grants. the average pell grant is about
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the same as the average community college tuition. we spend a lot of money on student loans. other countries do other things. germany has an apprenticeship system. some people say our technical institutes do a better job than our community colleges. if you're the secretary of the workforce, and if you see that according to the manufacturing institute, 2 million americans manufacturing jobs will go unfilled over the next ten years due to the skills gap, specifically what are some of the things we should be doing about it? >> senator, thank you for the question. first, let me touch on the first part of your comments which are the spending that we spend on education, and i think it's critical, if confirmed, that the department of labor work very closely with the deparetment of education because there's a lot of spending that's taking place on education and we want to make sure to the extent possible and
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feasible that individuals have the opportunity to align their education with the skills the workplace will demand. more specifically, to the second part of your question, you mentioned apprenticeships. so as dean of a law school, i'm a big fan of learning by doing. we recently started a program which is a full semester internship at a law firm in addition to public defender's office or state attorney's office. and the students have the opportunity to spend a full semester there because they can learn by doing and i think if you look at some of the apprenticeship programs where individuals work, they get credit where they're working or programs available in community colleges that focus on vocational opportunities in partnership with individual businesses, those are all options that we should be looking at because there are alternative ways of educating,
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there are alternative ways of providing skills and importantly it is a way for students to acquire skills and jobs -- skills to be used in jobs without taking on the enormous debt that we're seeing in some secondary -- in some secondary programs right now. >> let me ask you one other question. the overtime rule. fortunately it's not effect thanks to a court. in my view, it was one of the worst examples of regulation by the previous administration. it caused millions of americans to punch time clocks that they didn't want to punch. it raised tuition according to our universities. hundreds -- by hundreds of dollars per student because of its cost. it caused my local boy scouts to have to dismiss counselors. it received widespread condemnation around the country and even in congress there was
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bipartisan opposition. so there was a doubling of the threshold. there was an impact on non-profits. what are you going to do about the overtime rule? >> it's pending. let me offer a few observations. first, the overtime rule hasn't been updated, i believe, since 2004. and i think it's unfortunate that rules that involve dollar values can sometimes go more than a decade, sometimes 15 years, without updating because life does become more expensive over time. >> let me press you a little bit. would doubling the threshold, applying so heavily the impact of it to non-profits, doesn't that concern you? >> so, mr. chairman, it does, and the point that i was making is i think it's unfortunate that it goes so long without
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adjusting because when they are adjusted, you see impacts such as a doubling of the amount that does create a, what i'll call a stress on the system, as the chairman mentioned, particularly in areas, both industry and geographic areas that are lower wage, historically, and so i think one of the challenges we face in addressing the overtime rule is since 2004, there's been no change, now there is a very large change and how should that be addressed as a policy matter i think is a very difficult decision but a very serious one because the economy does feel a substantial impact from such a large change. >> thank you. senator murray? >> mr. chairman, let me follow on that. the department of labor did finalize the updated overtime rule last year and that rule helped restore the 40-hour
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workweek which is the cornerstone of protection for middle class workers. before that overtime rule, workers could be asked to put in extra hours. 60, 70, 80 hours a week. without earning a single extra dollar for the overtime hours that they spent away from their families. and that new overtime rule expanded the number of workers who qualify for overtime pay, increasing economic security actually for millions of families. after months of republicans in congress and big business fighting to block that overtime rule, as you stated, the court is now considering the rule and blocking additional overtime for workers from taking effect. so let me ask the question a little bit differently. do you believe that workers should be paid overtime for the overtime hours that they work? >> senator, i do believe workers that are entitled to overtime pay should receive pay for their overtime. >> will you do fend this rule in court? >> senator, as i was saying in
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response to the chairman's question, the overtime rule hasn't been updated since 2004. we now see an upkate thdate tha very large revision and something that needs to be considered is the impact it has on the economy on non-profits, on geographic areas that have lower wages. but i'm also very sensitive to the fact that it hasn't been updated since 2004. and if confirmed, i will look at this very closely. let me also add a related issue to this is the question of whether the dollar threshold is within the authority of the secretary. when congress passed the statutes, it provides in essence for a duties test. and one of the questions that's in litigation is does a dollar threshold supersede the duties test and as a result is it not in accordance with the law?
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and i mentioned that because i think the authority of the secretary to address this is a separate issue from what the correct amount is. and the litigation needs to be considered carefully both with respect to what would be the appropriate amount, if the rule were to be changed or revised, but also what is within the authority of the secretary to do? >> okay. well this is an issue i'm going to be following closely. i think it's an issue of fairness. i really do believe the secretary of labor's job is to make sure that workers are treated fairly. let me move on to another -- another issue. you have served as a high ranking federal official, one of the few cabinet nominees of this president who has done so. however, in your time leading the civil rights division at the department of justice, staff under your supervision broke federal law by systemically discriminating against individuals based on their political affiliations.
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an inspector general investigation found that staff on your management team sought out conservative candidates and rejected liberal ones. your staff referred to conservatives as real americans who were on the team and according to the i.g. report, your staff called liberal department lawyers comis and pinkos and told the subordinate your division shouldn't be limited to hiring bureau members who belong to some psychopathic left-wing organization designed to overthrow the government. your deputy said he should get an award for effectively breaking the will of liberal staff. these were your staffers acting under your supervision. do you take responsibility for the acts of discrimination that occurred under your leadership? >> senator, you're referring to the actions of one of the deputies in the division. i believe the inspector general's report found that the other deputies that oversaw the
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other division, or the other sections of the civil rights division, did not engage in that conduct. that conduct should not have happened. it happened on my watch. it should not have occurred. that language should not have been used. and i deeply regret it. >> okay. and it leaves me to ask you, will you stand up to the president or others in the administration if they ask you to use political views on statements and hiring decisions? >> senator, political views on the hiring of career attorneys or staff should not be used and the answer to your question is, if i am asked to do that, i will not allow it. i'm very aware of the inspector general's report of the impact it had on that section and i would not allow the that to happen. >> okay. i appreciate that very much. thank you. >> thanks, senator murray. senator collins then senator bennet.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. acosta, first of all, thank you for sharing your inspiring personal story. it really is the story of opportunity in america and in many ways that is the mission of the department that you've been nominated to lead. to create more opportunities for american workers. the department has a program known as the trade adjustment assistance program that helps americans who through no fault of their own have lost their jobs as a result of foreign and often unfair competition. in maine, for example, we've lost more than 38% of our manufacturing jobs. that's nearly 31,000 jobs in total over the last 17 years. the trade adjustment assistance
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program has been crucial in helping many workers who have been hit very hard by mail closures and shuttered factories get the skills that they need for the jobs in higher-demand industries. for example, in fiscal year 2015, 740 mainers benefited from taa and more than 70% of those who went through taa-provided education or retraining found employment within three months of completing the program. the so-called skinny budget that was released last week proposes large cuts in the department of labor but it's unclear what happens to taa. what is your view on that program? >> narsenator, thank you for
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question. i appreciate the way you set up the question because you provided data. if confirmed, something i think i would need to do and do very quickly because budget season has already begun is assess the efficacy of the job training programs because the budgets are, you know, to be determined. the skinny budget has been submitted. congress will have the final say on the ultimate budget. but dollars are going to be more scarce is the reality. and so we're going to have to make difficult decisions. you provided data that shows how successful that program has been, and, you know, and i think the principles that need to be used tospending are how successful is the program? does the program address particular needs such as the needs of displaced individuals who have lost their jobs because of, for example, the closing of a mill? and in that context, the rate of
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return on the investment of taxpayer dollars in skills i think is particular high, because if you have someone that has been doing a job most of their life and that job no longer exists, and now you provide them the skills to do another job, they're going to hold that job for a long time and they're going to become part of our economy again and they're going to be paying taxes. and so that rate of return on those programs i think is very strong. so based on your information, i hope that that program remains because it sounds like it's incredibly successful, at least in your state. and let me add, i think there's also room for differences within states where some program might make sense in maine but it might not make sense in another state and i think we need to be very sensitive that one size does not fit all. >> thank you for that response.
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despite the success of the taa program, there still is the category of workers in my state who are older workers, who are in many ways the forgotten story of this economic recovery. older workers are having increasing difficulties in finding employment. in maine, almost half of the private industry workers are over 44 years old in our paper mills which have lost more than 1,500 jobs over the past 3 years, alone, have a disproportionately high number of older workers. and for many of them, working the paper mill's been the only job they've ever known. their families have worked there for literally generations. and it's very difficult to tell someone who's 54 years old who's
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done this his entire life or her entire life that they need to retrain for a new job or leave a community that's been their home their entire life. if confirmed, what ideas do you have for helping older workers in my state and others who have lost jobs due to mill closures and other factors? >> senator, i'll briefly, because i see the clock, i will just say that i think those ideas can't come from washington. i think what washington needs to do is go to them and ask them what ideas do they see in their local area and then work with them and the local governments to address that. because i don't think that we here in washington can understand what they're going through in their small town in maine. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator collins.
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senator bennet? >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for holding this hearing. mr. acosta, congratulations to you and your nomination and thank you for your willingness to serve. i want to refresh you a little bit on what senator collins was just asking. let me come back to that in one second. in colorado, we are trying to establish an apprenticeship program throughout our universities, community colleges, school districts and businesses and i'd like to invite you, if you're confirmed, to come out there and meet with the people who are working on that prujt oject to see how the department of labor might help them or help us do that better. so -- >> gladly. >> good. thank you. virtually this entire campaign was about bringing back jobs and wages to places in america where people have suffered huge economic dislocation because of some would argue trade, some might say automation. but the disl locatiolocation ha
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real. median family income has fallen in many places and there's a hopelessness about what the economy is going to bring. so with respect to you, i'm not sure the answer that it's all up to local communities suffices. the president ran for president saying he was going to make that huge difference. he was going to bring those jobs back. so apart from training, which i stipulate and we talked about in my office, is enormously important thing that we need to do better and i think we're wasting billions of dollars not tra training people for jobs that exist in the 21st century. putting that aside, what's the plan? >> senator, thank you for the question, and let me first make the point that one of the reasons that i said it's important to go to the local communities is because when the senate and i met in private, she gave me information about the educational background and the abilities and the other opportunities in that area and that's by definition going to be
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different than what's available in colorado. so i do think it's important to visit colorado and visit maine and understand the different areas. going to your point, i think we need to look at several different levels for job creation. you know, the president has made clear that every cabinet agency should review regulations for a needed regulatory burden. small business produces, depending whose numbers you look at between zemseven and eight o of ten new jobs. i think it's important to look at the issue that i highlighted about foreign workers taking american jobs. particularly when, you know, in those circumstances that i highlighted where americans are being asked to train their foreign replacements. that is not the intent of the
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h1b and as a matter of fact, there's an astaation that has to be made that you're not affecting the working conditions of an american worker when you do that. and so one question that i would have is how often is that happening? and is that something that we should be looking at with greater degree of care? i think we also need to work with, you know, public/private partnerships. i know there is a lot of discussion about an infrastructure program. and an infrastructure program will certainly bring back a lot of jobs and for all of these, it's not just the jobs as part of an infrastructure program, or jobs that are developed for small business, but as individuals get jobs, they spend money. and then those individuals that spend money go to restaurants. and you have this multiplier effect throughout the economy that i think is incredibly valuable. let me -- let me finally touch
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on education. and i do think it's important to touch on education because the economy is changing rapidly and our educational institutions cannot ignore what the workplace is going to be demanding going forward. >> mr. acosta, i also just wanted -- for the record, note, and i appreciate this, that you've been a supporter of immigration reform in the past. with senator rubio, i was part of the gang of eight here who passed the senate bill on immigration and part of what you observed in 2012 was that the current system allowed the abuse of immigrant workers. do you still feel that way and do you still support immigration reform? >> senator, i think there is a need to have immigration laws that are transparent and clear. and i do think that we have an
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issue of abuse with immigrant workers. i think when workers are not part of a system, the system can abuse them. but i also think it's important that we -- that we enforce our immigration laws and i don't see enforcement of immigration laws as separate from immigration reform. >> one -- mr. chairman, i realize i'm 15 seconds over. i apologize. along those lines as well, you mentioned the h21 program. we is huge difficulties in colorado with the h2a and h2b program that is actually useful to workers and to businesses so i look toward to having the chance to talk with you about that at a later time. thank you, mr. chairman, for holding this hearing. >> thank you, senator bennet. i was going to call on senator hatch but he's not here, so i'll call on senator scott. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here, again. couple questions that i've heard so far during this hearing has
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to do with the overtime rule. moving from $23,600 to about $47,000 according to some studies would cost about half a million jobs in the economy. so your comments seem to be a mixed bag. according to tammy mccutchen, who was an hourly and wage person, the department of labor under the bush administration, moving it up from $23,000 to maybe $32,000 would make sense based on the previous formula that's been used for decades. what would be your approach? >> senator, thank you for the question. if you were to do a cost of living adjustment and as i mentioned, the world has gotten more expensive and salaries have changed since 2004. so if you were to apply a straight inflation adjustment, i believe that the figure, if it were to be updated, would be somewhere around $33,000, give
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or take. and so i think the question that i will have to face, if i work to become secretary of labor, is one, what to do with the litigati litigation. two, if we determine that the rule as it currently stands should not be the rule that eventually takes place within this litigation context, what would be the correct amount? and i understand that there's a desire on the part of members of this committee for me to sort of state this is exactly what i would do. but this is an incredibly complicated rule. this is something that gets updated about every 15 years. and so for me to sort of on the fly at a hearing state with certainty, i don't think it's the responsible approach. what i would say is, one, i
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understand the extreme economic impact that a doubling has in certain parts of the economy. i understand that it goes beyond a cost of living adjustment. and i understand as well that because of the size of the increase, there are serious questions as to whether the secretary of labor even has the power to enact this in the first place. which is what a lot of the litigation -- not a lot -- which is what the basis of the litigation is. those are issues that i would want to consult with the individuals at labor and at justice that are overseeing the litigation before determining. >> well, i certainly hope that you already invested a lot of time contemplating what you would do as the next secretary as opposed to not having invested any time in that conversation which will be a very important conversation between the overtime rule and the fiduciary rule.
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these are things you should be contemplating already. let's move to a different topic. i think senator bennet mentioned it, perhaps chairman alexander and the ranking member as well talked about the importance of apprenticeship program. perhaps one of the leading states in the country on the success of our apprenticeship programs. i would love to hear how you would encompass or integrate into your objectives going forward an apprenticeship model taking into consideration the one that cory booker and myself have sponsored, the l.e.a.p. act, over 17,734 apprenticeships and 6,400 participating programs in south carolina. we have companies throughout the country and south carolina from bwm, boeing, continental, general electric, blue cross blue shield, bosh, also industries like health care and finance that are all integrated in south carolina and involved
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in apprenticeship programs. i'd love to hear your model. >> senator, first, let me say south carolina really is the model of apprenticeship programs. some of the -- some of the qualities that makes it so successful is the integration or the public/private partnership where employers are not involved in name but they're really deeply involved in their directing. these are the types of apprenticeships that we need. this is, you know, this is what the workforce is demanding and i think that that involvement of employers is very, very important. i know that south carolina at the state level also provides incentives for employers to engage in apprenticeships and to hire apprentices and particularly when someone is learning, when someone is quite literally an apprentice, my understanding is that that makes the south carolina program particularly noteworthy and
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attractive for an employer to hire an apprentice. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator scott. senator baldwin? >> thank you, mr. chairman, and welcome, mr. acosta. congratulations on the nomination. one of the first responsibilities, and you alluded to it a moment ago, in terms of the fact that it's budget season, one of the first responsibilities of the secretary is going to be identifying where to cut, frankly, because president trump's budget calls for a $2.5 billion cut to the department of labor. 21% decrease from current enacted levels. this is really significant. president trump's budget only
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specifies $500 million of cuts. mostly to seniors seeking job training and leaves about $2 billion unspecified. so i'd like to ask you how are you going to approach this incredible task of making this math work? i mean, you could eliminate all -- or you could eliminate 15 job core centers for vulnerable youth. you could eliminate the entire employee benefit security administration charged with protecting workers' retirement funds from fraud or get rid of the women in apprenticeship grant program. how are you going to approach this? do 20% across the board? are you going to cut various bureaus? or what are you going to do? >> senator, thank you for the
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question. first, let me say as a nominee, i haven't had any -- the opportunity to provide input yet into the budget process. and if confirmed, it's something i'm going to have to take on very quickly because it's moving. my personal perspectives, and, again, congress will make ultimate decisions on this, and so congress may have a different view. but my personal perspective is this should not be -- and at the same time it shouldn't focus on particular programs because thae bit too -- because programs aren't quite that -- low can i put this? you mentioned -- senator, let me come at it this way. so you mentioned the job core centers and i think there's some job core centers in some states where the job core centers are highly successful and for those states, those job core centers work exceedingly well.
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given the population, given the geographic diversity of that state. those job core centers, from my understanding, are working well. there's some other job core centers that have a history of violence associated with them that concerns me. and as a matter of fact, the department of labor has looked at some of those job core centers and has identified some of those issues. and so i think this requires an analysis on a few levels. >> i want to just cut you off because we have limited time, but, so you're not going to look at across the board, and what i think i hear you saying, to sum rid summarize, you wouldn't eliminate programs, me say, but w you would look at success. i think you said that earlier in response to the trade adjustment assistance question for senator collins. >> that would be fair.
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>> so, what troubles me is in areas where we're not seeing success is pulling it away and offering -- not offering those programs the answer or is it going in and fixing and adjusting and providing those opportunities? i mean, if you pull it away, you've left people high and dry in training and many other areas. >> senator, i understand your question and i think -- and i don't think we disagree and here's -- first, it's a question of what is success. right? because if you have a particularly troubled area, a little bit of movement can be success. but secondly, just because you pull a -- you know, if there's a job core center in a particular
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geographic area that isn't working, that doesn't mean you pull away from that geographic area. that just means that maybe in that area, the money is better spent on another program than on the job core center. so i don't think it would be right to abandon any one area. i think that's why it needs to be an analysis based on the program and the geography to ask what does this state need? what does this part of that state need? and really look at it on a local basis. >> thank you, senator baldwin. senator young? >> welcome, mr. acosta. great to be with you here today. i'd like to first get your thoughts on how we can better link our unemployed americans to job opportunities. as secretary of labor, this is something you'll have direct oversight over. there are already programs out there to help facilitate these linkages. less than half of the available
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workforce has the appropriate training to fill available jobs. some communities are innovative in serving local need. in my own state, we have jeffersonville, indiana, they partnered with ford for their next-generation learning program. this partnership engages businesses, educators, community leaders, various other stakeholders to enhance the workforce system throughout the region, which is in southern indiana. it's going to connect high school graduates to relevant postsecondary education that will directly filter into businesses around that community. every member here can no doubt cite localized, specific examples of sort of creative solutions to this linkage issue which is so important if we're going to have flexible, effective labor marks which in turn leads to faster economic
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growth and higher wage growth. perhaps you could speak to how you, as secretary of labor, will foster this sort of engagement and maybe serve as a conduit for information related to best practices so that folks back in the states and our localities can scale up what's working. >> senator, thank you for the question. you know, it's interesting that even in this hearing, each -- several members are pointing to successes in their particular states. and you're right, those need to be compiled and put into best practices. so that they can be duplicated. but the other point that i would identify is not only are these successes based on local partnerships, but they're based on public/private partnerships. it's not the department of labor going in on its own. it is businesses working at a
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local level with educational institutions and with other local entities to align the training opportunities with what the workforce -- with what the employers are demanding. and that partnership, i think, is so critical and so going to senator baldwin's question of, you know, wouldn't you be walking away from a particular area if a program isn't working? the point i was trying to make is, no, if there's a program that's not working in a particular state, if there's a program that's not working in indiana, for example, but there's a program that's working fabulously well, then we should look at that program that's working fabulously well and perhaps double down on that program. if that program is going to address the needs that were otherwise addressed by the program that isn't working. >> i like to hear common sense from my would-be secretary of
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lab labor. that strikes me as common sense. that's a good thing. i'll look forward to working with you to operationalize that concept through programs or policies or so forth. in my remaining time, perhaps i could pivot to the gig economy. the availability, the preference, for so many of our workers to take multiple part-time jobs, to do freelance work, it's just the way so much of our economy is moving. it's creating unique challenges for our workers and we, from a public policy standpoint, are going to have to adapt to these challenges. one of those challenges is for parents. their daycare responsibilities, if, in fact, they either require a job outside of the home, or they wish to work outside of the home. i have four young children. we have some flexibility, my wife and i, in our lives, and some family members that help out. so we figured out a way to make it work. a single father who's caring for
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a few children, works the nightshift at walmart. i don't know how they do it. i don't know where they find acceptable, available daycare for their children. and so i'm not asking you to solve this problem, but could you at least speak to this problem as perhaps the next secretary of labor? and how you might explore innovative ways to deal with it, partnering with our states and localities to make the gig economy work for more people? >> senator, thank you. the gig economy is something that the deparetment of labor needs to address and on several levels, the rules at dol aren't designed, they haven't caught up to the gig economy. they assume a more traditional workplace and so i think it goes beyond the issue that you raised to several issues within the department of labor. it's incredibly important.
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there are individuals in my office who are single parents and i see them and they've got to juggle and they have the means to juggle and it's still incredibly difficult. so it's something that we're going to have to talk about and address, but it has to be at the local level. >> thank you, senator young. senator warren and then senator hatch. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. acosta, you were the president's second choice for secretary of labor. i'll be honest, i'm glad it's not his first choice, andrew puzder, who's sitting here today. it's hard to imagine a candidate who would be worse than a man who made his fortune by squeezing workers on wages and benefits. a man who repeatedly broke the laws that he would be charged with enforcing. a man who bragged about replacing his workers with robots, who would never sue him for race or sex discrimination. but that said, the test for secretary labor is not are you
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better than andrew puzder? the test is will you stand up for 150 million american workers? and that starts by making sure that workers are safe on their jobs. department of labor rule to protect 2.3 million american workers from exposure to lethal cancer-causing silica went into effect last summer. so i just want to know, mr. acosta, will you promise not to weaken the silica rule in any way and not to delay future compliance by even a single day? >> senator, as you mentioned, the silica rule went into eff t effect. i should, however, make clear that the president through an executive action has directed all cabinet secretaries to put together a group to review all rules within each cabinet agency. >> i'm aware of that. >> and to examine -- and so i -- >> this is a rule that has gone into effect. >> yes, senator, but -- >> i just want to make sure you're not going to delay this
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rule any further. >> senator, i understand. the point i'm trying to make is that the president has directed each cabinet officer to review all so i cannot make a commitment because the department of labor has been ordered to review all rules. i want to understand what that means when you say the the president of labor has been ordered to review all rules. you're about to be named sec a tear of labor. either you're going to stand up for 15 american workers including people being poisoned by silica or you're not. are you going to stand up for the people? finally we have a rule in place so people will not be poisoned by silica. >> senator --
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>> and you're saying it's open and you don't want to give an answer one way or another on how you look at that? >> i'm saying the rule is in effect. the final rule went into was prom l gaited but there was an order and executive action -- >> but you can't give us your own sense of whether or not the silica rule is something that ought to be enforced? you will do this review and you're telling me you can't tell whether or not we ought to take out rules that will cause people to die? >> senator, i am not advocating taking out rules. i am making -- >> can i take it then as you will enforce that rule? >> senator i -- all cabinet officers have been asked to review.
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i have heard it. you're telling me you have no opinion whether or not high on your his would be to protect to rule that protects people from being poisoned. >> you don't want to give a hint right now? >> senator, there is an sbir staff at the department of labor. >> yes. and they already looked at this rule and already received comments from the public about this rule and they strongly support this rule. i raised this two weeks ago. there should be no surprise. >> i gave the same answer. i'm looking forward to hearing from the staff -- >> and following their advice.
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>> if it is appropriate. >> i think we have got how this dance works. let me ask you another question. another huge responsibility is that to make sure workers are paid fairly. days before the ked line a texas judge locked. will you commit to appealing the judge's rules? >> i will commit to examining both to rule and legal basis of the judge's decision. >> i appreciate that. that's exactly what you said to me two weeks ago.
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it's not a long ruling to look what went behind this. i think it's time for an answer. are you going to appeal it or not? >> the department of labor has staff this spent a long time working on this. i think it would be smart to consult regarding -- >> we are a minute over, senator. >> i'll say, mr. acosta, i want to know if you're going to follow through it on it. they have prepared an appeal. evidently by measuring their actions is their advice. i want to know you're going to be part of this. >> we'll have time for a second round of questions. >> thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> welcome. happy to see you again. we know you have given this government a lot of effort in
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the past. i know once confirmed you'll do a very good job in this particular position. the office protects workers and potential employees of federal contractors from employment discrimination. it is my observation the committee pointed out ofccp appear to prioritize specific rather than equal consideration and opportunity because of reliance on statistical alliance and allowing contractor practices. how would you go about leading the office to enforce more -- to
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enforce nondiscrimination standards rather than nonstatistical? how do you propose promoting actual discriminatory treatment instead of based solely on statistical bench marks that may not be uniformly applicable? >> thank you for your question. let me say that i remember appearing before your committee in a room very similar to this. thank you for the courtesies you extended at that time as well. i think it was two floors down.
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and so without more i would hesitate to say that ofccp couldn't use acceptable tools that are generally considered valid in employment contexts in enforcing the executive order that it is charged with enforcing. >> okay. i hear all of the time about the need for skilled workers. i have heard you talk about how we can modernize one such model. i'm working on promoting employers in addition to efforts
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what do you other employer-lead training best practices? >> thank you. i think they need to take a leadership role in working with employer groups to encourage employers. you know, i had -- as you were asking a question i had a remembrance of a project that we had with the restaurant association around disability compliance. we worked with them to encourage restaurants to apply with the ada. the point that we made to them is that compliance can make business sense. and so working with associations to encourage job training programs what needs to be done
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and can be done this has to be in partnership with employers. let me also add i don't think the department of labor can do this alone. it is such a key player in this. the funding is some what deeper than that department of labor's funding. i think it's important to break down the silos. to really work together in addressing these issues. >> thank you. i think my time is almost up. >> thank you. >> thank you. nice to see you hear. i will add about the importance of job training. it is critical which is also our
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job corp. center. i wanted to focus about the importance of osha. it not only saves lives but also saves valuable resources. it demonstrates osha and lowers workers compensation costs to the tune of billions dollars an julie. it has about 45% fewer than in
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1980 when the work force was almost half of current levels. the budget plu print proposings to cut. can you advocate for that will maintain at no less than current levels? >> senator, i can certainly commit that i -- let me come at it this way. i would be very concerned in a situation like you mentioned when there are only seven
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inspectors. something will have to give somewhere. my background the enforcement background. i would have a lot of concern if the number of inspectors felt to the point. >> thank you. i want to move onto the area of making sure we are including more people who experienced disabilities in this country in the work force.
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>> i certainly support the authority of any state to eliminate that. with respect to at the federal level, you know, i think this is a very difficult issue because you don't want to disrespect individuals in any way by the very phrase sub minimum wage is a disrespectful phrase, yet you want to provide incentives or systems to ensure that individuals that might not otherwise have a job have access to a job and are frtrained into job. i think it's a very difficult
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balance that i'm happy to have a further discussion about. >> i hope we can. it isn't the phrase that's disrespectful. it is disrepresentfspectful to people on the basis that they experience a disability. i think it will be really important that we continue the conversation. i think if you go back and look around this you find a lot of it -- it was employers who said this is a population that is doing the job. why are we allowed to pay them sub minimum wage? i would look forward to working with you on that. >> thank you, senator. senator roberts. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you for being here today.
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you were certainly well introduced. i think you should be confirmed. i will take a little bit different tact here than some of my colleagues. i will not ask you about president trump, whether or not you will follow his executive orders despite what some may think to be contrary to current law. i will not ask you about the budget, about the campaign or ask you whether you are for death by silica. i have got a different view. many folks here not only on this committee but with a lot of exceptions but in washington we'll look at this through a telescope and we have an entire regulatory agenda. it is intended for job safety. it is intended for
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non-discrimination. and then when it gets down people wonder. here comes regulations and i know this because i go avenue after a town meeting. he is running a business and he is running a business where my safety if i go in there is in danger or his work force is in danger. they hold up a piece of paper and say what is this regulation? i do not understand it. they do not have an attorney or somebody to figure it out why they have received that. now, i used to work for me predecessor and my job was to go
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out and figure out what this new animal was called osha. we had the first osha person go out way out west the trick is not to climb it, the trick is to find it. and the osha person was supposed to go out but just missed it. he fell short and looked high and low for somebody, anybody that he could walk in and say hey, you're not performing your job right. so he went into a manufacturer that goes on the top and they had a stamping machine.
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they put a hole in the webbing to tie the rope to put over they find where he -- i think the fine was a thousand dollars. he came to the courthouse and he was giving my predecessor a hard time. he said i have the guy to take care of it. i go over and i look at this stamping machine. the fine was because it endangered a person's leg the way it was constructed. it was constructed so that a wounded veteran from korea who had lost a leg multiply that by a thousand. it would entitle me to go down
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the regulatory agenda and joblesses and the paperwork. what i want to know is can we get a cost benefit yardstick that makes sense where you have the regulatory cost i want to know what is your overall fi philosophy and people who feel they are being ruled and not governed. i can tell you they are in business in a small community and they are not performing their job right and they are discriminating against people and they are bad news and it's a bad workplace and they are out of business. that's just the way it works. so can you give me your overall fill os fi on regulation? >> senator, briefly, because i
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noticed the clock. i would make two points. it is through addictive it is not serving a useful purpose. -- seven out of ten jobs by best estimates and if we are going to create jobs we need to free up small business. and so that kwoub my big picture. >> thank you senator roberts. senator murphy. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. thank you for your willingness to serve. just a follow up on his line of questioning, point of clarification. during this pending review to determine which ones are appropriate you still have an obligation it will be enforced
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by your department. >> i'm he has fa-- hesitating because of one rule, assuming there is no stay, yes. >> okay. second, to follow up on senator baldwin's questioning regarding funding, i get a little funding when i hear you talk about accepting a lower level of funding for job training. the president's budget has winners and losers, right? there is a lot more money for defense. there is money for a wall. that comes at the expense of other programs. i think we would hope you would be an advocate for the programs that the department of labor funds. in connecticut the defense
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dlarsz doesn't do us the maximum amount of good without the department of labor charges. we can build additional sub marines but if we don't have the pipeline they will go overseas. we have a 92% placement rate in manufacturing jobs from the pipeline program. 3,000 people are try to go sign up. they can only take a couple hundred a year. the consequence of not fulfilling that need, the jobs will go to other countries because we can't hire the folks here. so let me ask you senator baldwin's question, do you support the 20% cut that's been proposed to your department. ? >> thank you for rephrasing. i never said i accepted when i
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was speaking to senator baldwin. it was a quote and he said we have 20 trillion in get. a program has to be shown to be good. i wrote myself that note because one of the things that i want to do -- and i forget which of our colleagues had great data, but i want to go through the programs and compile the data. far lot of these programs i believe the rate of return is quite significant and would pay for itself very readily in money
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saved and taxes paid by the fact that individuals have jobs. and so i readily embrace that as part of the job. if confirmed i'm certainly going to speak up. >> i think you'll find an abundance of programs that are underfunded that will allow you to make that case. lastly, i appreciate the number of times which you made references to the department of labor. the fact of the matter is and really the job training programs. one-third are today making less than a minimum wage over the
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course of a year i know you thought about this in florida. shouldn't there be a role for federal government to ask more of all nart -- centers of job training and demand results we are not getting today? >> senator, i have thought of in the context of law and they looking more for results. it is more about the output.
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they have faced challenges with the department of education because they haven't -- because the results are not necessarily on par. and so the to the extent these are -- well, i don't want to go beyond -- to the extend these are department of labor programs i would want to see the results and the metrics to make sure it is being done appropriately. >> thanks senator murphy. >> thank you mr. chairman for being willing to go through this process and serve. you have a tremendous amount of background. i have a number of areas i'm interested in. she got the next to the last -- she was the next to the last to have one job corp. center. we were the last to have one job corp. center. ours is in the middle of a reservation inhabited by two
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tribes with high unemployment. they are working together to get kids into this job corp. and it's making a hung difference. they are doing entry training and welding and other things that are tied to the economy. the job placement is tremendous. another thing she happened to mention was the speck tos. something we keep overlooking is the dpp program where we allow big company to hire an inspector to come in and look at their business and if there's anything that matters they have to fix it immediately. if they do that they continue to be a vpp company. there isn't any provision for the small companies. i suggest they ought to be able to hire an expert for their particular type of business. one of the high places for
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injuries is in the printing industry. if all the newspapers in why opening went together they would like to have somebody come in and inspect their premises. if there is anything found wrong they fix it and still get to be part of this program. i hope you'll take a look at this. she also mentioned the sub minimal wage. we worked on that for years. we knew that the purpose of that was to be able to get an evaluation for people that haven't been evaluated so they could find their place in thework force. so we tried to do some things to eliminate that possibility and get people that are trained into the work force. are there any of these things you would like to comment on. >> so thank you. i will gladly follow up on the
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programs you have mentioned. i think it's important we think outside the box and that we -- you know, on the private enforcement matter i would just say that i think there could be a role for that but we need to ensure that it's under appropriate guidelines. >> okay. thank you. at the start of the oba obama administration they ended the long standing practice of providing opinion letters that answered questions about specific applications of the labor laws. these letters were made public and useful for employers and employees alike who were trying to understand the law. typical administration issued dozens of these each year. the last administration replaced opinion letters with
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administrators interpretations that only give broad opinions on a subject chosen by the agency leaving many details unanswered. they issued a total of seven interpretations during the entire administration. many who were trying to comply with complex labor and regulations and who want to be in compliance would like to see a return to the opinion letter system who you commit to restoring the most robust and interactive assistance system so folks can spend less time trying to decipher the law and more time complying and grows successful businesses and creating new jobs. >> i think it comes from the fact that they are grounded in a specific set of facts and not in a broad -- in a broad sort of legal premises.
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so i see no reason why i would not encourage opinion letters. >> thank you. one of the invasions we are seeing right now is the on demand economy and other services where they can connect more directly through an app on their phone or through a web site. what kind of information do we need to ensure that we properly understand that segment of the committee? do you think it is able to capture that information? >> senator, i do not know if the bureau of labor statistics is capturing that information. i think it's a very important question and one i will follow up on if confirmed. >> thank you. i have other questions. i'll submit them. thank you. >> thank you senator. >> thank you. i appreciated our visit in your office and preesh dwrat your public service.
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there was once a time before the sexual abuse conviction when they love today hang around a billionaire money manager that loved to party. they visited his mansion and flew on his jet to join him on the caribbean island of little saint james and even joked about his taste in younger women. it is even said he likes beautiful women as much as i do and many of them were on the younger side. trump is on a witness list overhow they handled allegations that he sexually abused more
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than 40 minor girls mostly between the ages of 14 and 17. i would like to introduce the article. >> it will be introduced. >> i would like to ask you about this. first, a couple of questions. my understanding is that there is a pending civil lawsuit filed by a couple of the victims in that case seeking to argue that they should have been given notice prior to the plea deal being entered into. is that your understanding as well? >> my understanding is there is a pending civil lawsuit. the department of justice defended the actions of the office in that matter under both president bush and president obama's administrations. >> the opening that i read
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suggests that you decided as u.s. attorney to cut a nonprosecution deal and there's an allegation even though your staff advocated that you do so. is that accurate? >> that is not accurate. let me address. you know, one of the difficulties with matters before the department of justice is that the department of justice does not litigate in the public record or in the media and litigates in court. let me set forth some facts. this matter was originally a state case. it was presented by the state attorney to the grand jury in palm beach county. they recommended a single count
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of solicitation not involving minors, i believe, and that would have resulted in zero jail time, zero registration as a sexual offender and zero rest tau restitution for the victims in this case. it was presented to the u.s. attorney's office. it is highly unusual and as i was speaking to some of your colleagues that have been involved in prosecutions they mentioned they don't know of any cases personally where a u.s. attorney becomes involved in a matter after it has already gone to a grand jury at the state level. in this case we deemed it necessary to become involved and we early on had discussions within the office. we decided that a sentence or he
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should register as a sex offender and federal interest could be satisfied and it would refer to the state. that was very early on in the case. i say that because the article goes onto talk about review that the u.s. attorney's office was in this matter. >> can i read one other statement? federal prosecutors detailed their findings in an 82 page prosecution memo. epstein was never indicted.
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>> i will give him time to answer even though it was over five minutes. >> to address your question -- and i can't discuss the details but let me take it generally. it is pretty typical in prosecutions for a draft indictment to be written. it doesn't necessarily mean that it is filed. that draft indictment does not consider the strength of the underlying case. and so as part of any plea it is not unusual to have an indictment that says these are all the places we can go yet at the end of the day based on the evidence professionals within a
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prosecutor's office decide that are plea that guarantees someone go to jail that guarantees someone register generally and guarantees other outcomes is a good thing. was that a consistent decision in your office? i'm out of time. i will come back. >> do you feel like you have had time to sufficiently answer? >> yes. we can come back to if you would like to. thank you for waiting. >> thank you mr. chairman for the time you gave me in my office a week or so ago. the issue of job corp. has been raised by a couple of my colleagues. you had an opportunity to speak also about that.
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i indicated to you that i think the job corp. has been successful. we have seen good support in that, those who graduate are actually finding jobs in the area they are trained for. you communicated that it is by the percent of students who get is something you would be looking to. i urge you in that as we are looking at job training. let me bring up the issue of our fisheries and seasonal climate aspect of it is. we have a limited labor pool in alaska made more complicated
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because of compressed season in the summer where our fisheries are going full tilt and a reality that for us to be able to meet that labor pool it has been important to rely on these visas. what we have seen unfortunately is that we have got a processing bottleneck that has been left unresolved. it is really very detrimental to our industry. they cannot submit applications prior to 90 days before the
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first of unemployment and the workers that have requested it begins that cap and what we see is because alaska's fishing season is later that cap is used up by the time our employers and those in the industries are requesting their visas. add it with the slow processing times and it has really been complicated and very very difficult. so i would urge that you seek permanent solutions to this. i think we recognize there is administrative remedies that could be made immediately that could help states like alaska and others that face this same seasonal aspect to our labor
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force but later in the season. i would ask this morning that you will commit to review the way these caps are structured that really leave it at a clear disadvantage due to the timing and whether it's quarterly caps rather than, but i would ask that you commitment to working to ensure we have more timely processing of these applications. we also had on opportunity to discuss the unused worker
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applications. so it is a commitment you'll be working with us. we have a situation where if we can't get the workers, the fishermen can't fish, the dollars that pass over stop, the welding shops aren't working. it is when you speak to where we are to your view on these visas. >> i am happy to commit to work with you i have a concern which is what you articulated. it is dependent on these workers. if you're out of cycle that is not your fault. and so you have my commitment to look and understand why it hasn't been adjusted and if
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possible to find an appropriate solution. >> i thank you for that. i would also urge that this places a high priority because of timing we are up against currently. >> i fully understand and i'm glad to do that. >> thank you. >> thank you for coming. we talked a lot about work force training which i plan to get to in a moment. i want to talk about pensions. if confirmed you'll be the leading federal official charged with protecting pensions of more than 10 million americans. among those are 400,000 members across the country including
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20,000 in minnesota these are middle class workers, warehouse workers, truck drivers and other demanding blue collar jobs. biassed on current projections the multi-employer fund may run out of money before the plan runs out of money. that is two totaling nearly $60 billion. if you're confirmed that means
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one of the largest pension crises could land on your desk. have you or the trump administration proposed a plan to make the multiemployer pension sol vant? >> i have not seen a plan proposed that has worked in the past decade. >> okay. what about a plan to help the central state's fund? >> again, i have not proposed the plan. >> okay. how about this. will you commit to ensuring no one will have pension benefit fits cut from what they are receiving right now? >> senator, this is an issue that this congress has been working on for years, the prior administration tried to address and had difficulty addressing. i wish i could commit to that. if you expand it further to
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include city and state pension funds you're talking about a possibly $2 trillion price tag. this is what we have to think about. it's not just the executive branch but the executive branch working with congress because these workers worked they have expectations. i fully understand that. i get it. i also understand that this is an issue that has not yet been solved. if i could come up with a solution right on the spot i wish i could. >> thank you. during his campaign president trump said he would help working americans. now we have a situation where hundreds of thousands of these workers and retirees may lose their pensions. there are a number of ways it could be paid for. we can fulfill a promise.
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i think we should raise the funds by closing the carried sbroes loophole that benefits wall street and private equity managers which even president trump wants to get rid of. we would raise more than enough money to fix the central states fund. i would urge that. i'll move onto work force last friday during a press conference with angela merkle. in this case i completely agree with the president.
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i see getting down to my time so let's just kind of review what we talked about. if you are confirmed will you work with me on making sure that we follow some of germany's and sw switzerland's models. we talked about some of the funding cuts, but we work to make sure we have a robust plan to train our workers. >> we discussed it during our meeting. i will recommit to working with you on that, yes. >> thank you. >> thank you. we'll have time far second round if you want to follow that up. senator paul. >> congratulations on your
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nomination. as you know we are in a huge national debate on how to fix health care. if you had your choice you would rather be in a group plan which gets to the department of labor. it gets to approve -- let's see if i can approve it here. it qualified and the definition is they have to be bound together by a commonality of
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interest. imagine that the aarp, what if they formed a health association and they had one person negotiating with the insurance company? all of a sudden it's 33 million people negotiating rather than you and your wife. it might be changed by having someone say that everybody in the aarp has a commonality of sbroes. it the one of the things where the law may not need to be changed but we can exchange it by having someone there who says what a great idea this would be. i wanted to bring it to your attention. i don't expect you to have a full blown answer on this. i would love if you had someone look into it and i hope somebody can come back and talk to my office and anybody else interested in how we can expand
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the health associations. there are state associations. many of them -- like i was at the chamber. we would like to see them get one buying representative. you have this enormous leverage. it is a whole game changer and there's no mandate. there's no law, there's nothing other than enabling people to organize similar to the prospect of what labor wanted to organize. if you would like to comment it would be great. >> senator, let me agree to commit to that. i think the time line is very reasonable. >> thank you, senator paul. we have time for additional questions if you would like to.
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do you have any additional questions? senator murray? >> i do. thank you very much. >> thank you. women in this country earn about 80 cents on the dollar of what men earn resulting in a gap each year. this is true actually across professions, ages and education levels. the gap in pay is far worse for women of color. the marketplace alone will not fix this problem. do you believe there is a pay gap and do you agree it hurts women and families? >> i have seen data that reflects the statement that you made. >> what steps will you take to address that pay discrimination? >> well, senator, certainly sender discrimination should not
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occur. i know there is a womens bureau in the department of labor. i certainly would consult them and charge them. >> will you maintain looking at that? >> i make recommendations to the budget. the recommendations ultimately are decided by this congress. so i cannot make a commitment as to what the budget may or may not look like at the end of the day. i can only talk to my own views and recommendations. >> do you think it should be a priority? >> i certainly do think it the important to have -- >> as secretary will you fight for keeping that? >> i think it's important to have an office in the department of labor that focuses on womens
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issue. i know there is a lot to have focus on women entrepreneurs. i'm happy to look at it closely and try to make sure that is available. >> will that be a priority for you? >> so senator, i can certainly say -- i she hhesitate with the priority. if everything becomes a priority things are no longer priorities. i think it is a priority. you know, we talk about small businesses and, you know, women running small business is a great thing, and that's something that the department of labor should focus on and encourage and so certainly i can say that would be a priority. >> i appreciate that. i worry because your answer was that you look at it. you make recommendations and either u.s. secretaries say this
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is a priority for me or not. >> i'm happy to say it's a priority. i believe in a unitary executive. i don't think any cabinet secretary can make commitments because ultimately we have a boss. >> i know. well, that's what worries me. let me go to another question. it's one about an issue that happened in 2004. i want to go back and have you -- let you have a chance to answer this. days before the presidential election in 2004 do you made a controversial decision to weigh in on an ohio case about voting rights and access. that was a departure from standard practice of the department of justice so close to an election and you wrote to an ohio judge saying that laws
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like ohio's which allowed one voter to challenge another helped election officials enforce the law. at the time you sent the letter they had announced plans to use the law to place 3,500 challengers in polling places around the state on election day. experts testified a disproportionate number of challengers were to be placed in predominantly african american pres precinc precincts. the justice department had not filed a motion to intervene. you involved the department of justice in a case in which it had no role. days before an election and with full knowledge that the law was going to be used to mount challenges in ways that suppress the vote of african americans in a state where the outcome determined the outcome of the election. i wanted to ask you if you
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regret the decision in 2004. >> your time is up but you may take whatever time you need to answer the question. >> senator, let me first start by -- sorry, i should have brought glasses. there is a sentence that is very important from that letter, and you para phrased it. thus a challenged statute permitting objections based on united states citizenship, r residency precinct like those at issue here are not subject to facial as oh applied challenges under the act because those are not tied to race. i would say first we provided information in part because the ohio statute as i recall, did not have a provisional voting
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requirement and early on we say you need to have a provisional voting requirement which was enacted be i this congress. it was the first major where haba came into play. secondly i read that sentence because that sentence was put there with intentionality. it was put there to be clear that we were not weighing in on how this would be applied in ohio. we were not take ago position on what was being done in ohio specifically. and so it was on its face these are permitted but we are not taking a position as applied. and so we did not take a position as to how this was being applied in ohio. >> okay. that was a very legal question -- legal answer to a question. in your own words, do you regret sending that letter? >> senator, as an attorney for
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the department of justice some times you to do things that are unpopular but are legally correct. the letter is legally correct. i wish the letter was not interpreted the way it is interpreted, but the letter is legally and substantively correct. sometimes lawyers have to do what is legally correct. >> i am way over my time. let me finish by saying as secretary of labor i want to know if you will -- it is just a concern i have -- bow to political pressure which i have seen under this trump administration a tremendous amount of political pressure. you will have to stand up for workers. that will be your job. >> may i answer? senator, i have heard that concern a lot. let me say this. i'm a lawyer. i have been a prosecutor.
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i have prosecuted ubs, the international bank and as a result of that prosecution they changed swiss law. i prosecuted major drug cartels for 200,000 kilos of cocaine. i have been in public service the better part of my professional career. and i have seen pressure. and i don't for a second believe that senior officials would or should bow to inappropriate pressure. we work for the president. he is our boss. so all cabinet officials, as i believe -- in preparation for this hearing i watched and she made the point that we all work for the president and we all will ultimately follow his
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direction unless we feel that we can't and if we can't then we resign and that is our choice. >> thank you. >> thank you senator murray. >> thank you. i didn't have any questions. senator murray stepped on a nerve that i'm very sensitive to. that is disparity in women's pay. i am interested in the disparity of anybody's pay and know there is a federal law that says if you are doing the same job in the same company that you are supposed to be getting the same pay. as i travel along wyoming i explain to people if they are not getting paid the same amount let me know and i will help take it to court. if i have a female engineer working for a coal company making a lot of money and the guy that runs the meal room makes a lot less money, he doesn't have a case. that's a different job. what we have to do is get people
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moving up the ladder to where they are getting paid what they ought to be getting paid. in this hearing room one of my favorite hearings was the young lady that wanted to try something nontraditional. she became a brick mason. when she started as a brick mason she got to do pavers out on yards in court yards and things like that. after she had done that she got to start building some of the fountains in new york city. she was so prolific at it that she got to hang the marble on the outside of skyscrapers. now, i ask her what her job progression had been through these different things. i can tell you that hanging marble and multiple stories pays a lot better than the united states senator. that is what we want tohave for people. it's for single moms who want to
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get into a nontypical job. the two jobs that they are trained for is a warehouse supervisor or a truck driver. and they are amazing people that pick up these skills and then make more money than some of the men in our community. i got to speak at one of the graduations. it was for the truck drivers. i was amazed at how much they can make even if they can only work around town. it started at $18 an hour just around town. if they were able to make day trips out and still comply with the needs of their family went to 25. if they were willing to take long distance trips it really went up. when i was at the graduation forum i said you can do something that i can't do. i said back up a semi trailer.
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that is one of the requirements for it. women have more concentration than men do. they have more multi tasking than men do. we ought to be encouraging them where they make more than the men do. that's one of the things i think you can encourage through training sessions. i hope you will do that. i am asking if you will. >> fair enough, senator. yes. >> thank you. >> we will go to senator cain. >> i would like to close the loop on previous discussion. i asked you whether the agreement not to prosecute federally in exchange for agreement on other matters was a consensus within your office. i think your testimony was that it was generally held position of your office. i'm not a prosecutor.
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>> thank you. >> broadly held position. thank you. i want to just read this. in 2007 acosta signed non pros cushion deal in which he agreed not to pursue federal charges in exchange agreed to plea guilty to charge and accept 13-month sentence, register as sex offender and pay restitution to victims identified in the federal investigation. this agreement will not be made part of any public record. t what is the reason why this contest that will not be made part of the federal record. >> it will not be made part of public record. >> i wish i could respond to that. you're asking for -- i hesitate
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not because of concerns, but because this is a matter that is pending litigation. let me try to answer the question. >> it is in a different light. there are times when in negotiating an outcome there are agreements that are made that are ancillary. so what we sought and what we presented at the very beginning was two years plus registration plus individuals plus victims being able to seek restitution. what was obtained was 18 months plus registration plus individuals -- >> this says 13 months.
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>> the agreement called for 18 months as it was applied by the state of florida ended up being 13 months which is a separate issue. so ultimately there are other provisions that are part of that. and that is part of the give and take of a negotiation. >> and i understand your concerns since the matter is still pending. but as a general matter if something is allowed to be part of the public record then more people become aware of it. in this case there were allegations that somewhat more than three dozen women have been victimized by the individual. if something is allowed to be public it informs the public and provides opportunities for people to come forward. if something is prohibited from being part of any public record it has a way of making it more difficult for people to bring forward claims. isn't that accurate?
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>> senator, something that i think has changed over time is trust of government. and i think that that is relevant to the issue that you raised because there was a time when keeping something -- when having something confidential was less of an issue. the public expectation today is that things be very public. and if there is something that i have learned or thought about is how careful someone should be when something is not made public because often a very positive outcome, not talking about this case but generally, a very positive outcome can become a negative outcome not because of a change in underlying substance but because by something not looking public it is looked at with suspicion.
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>> this is a question. the u.s. attorney position is a position of great power. you are dealing with a lot of people who are in very vulnerable positions. the secretary of labor position is a position of great power. you will be responsible for positions where there are a lot of vulnerable people. during the campaign president trump often ridiculed the unemployment numbers calling them phony or a hoax. will you commit to keeping the bureau of labor and statistics independent and maintain and defend the integrity of its conclusions? >> i will answer your question. if i could circle back i want to make one final point. at the end of this case i received a telephone call from the special agent in charge of the fbi who had been part of this entire process and had been at the meetings and had been involved. and he called to just say
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congratulations. this is really hard fought and well won. and i say that because this really was a point of pride. there was a "new york times" article written concurrent to this that said then the united states office and attorneys office in miami became involved. last summer initially the team was elated. then the united states office became involved and last summer he got an ultimatum, plead guilty to charges or the government would charge him -- >> since you added on then i want to add on. you are aware that he served the 13 months. he was allowed out during the day and had to sleep at a county jail but was basically allowed to move and go around the community and do whatever he wants. that became a subject of significant criticism. >> i am on record condemning
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that. >> you would say that was a problem with the way the state administered the state sentence. >> yes and i think it was wrong. >> so on bureau of labor statistics briefly it has kept statistics for decades and has a procedure. it's a transparent procedure. that makes clear how they calculate that publishes for public comment any changes that may take place. i think that procedure is very important because bls keeps data that is used not just for today but for the future and i think that that process is very important. >> thank you mr. chair. >> senator warren. >> thank you, mr. chairman. so far you have received to answer my questions hiding behind an executive order that president trump issued asking agency heads to review pending
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regulations. i'm not asking you how you will respond to president trump's executive order. i'm asking you about what your priorities will be if you're confirmed as secretary of labor. you will be called on for your judgment. our working americans want to know what your values are, what it is that you prioritize. so far you said you can't commit to enforcing a rule to protect 2.3 million americans from exposure to lethal cancer causing silica and you won't commit to appeal injunction to labor department's overtime rule that would give 4.2 million americans a raise in a single year. so let me try a third one. let's see if you will protect waurkers saving for their retirements from financial advisers who would cheat them. on april 10 labor department rule is set to go into effect
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that would require advisers to recommend retirement products that are in the customer's best interest. those conflicts of interest now cost americans $17 billion every year. president trump has said he is currently working on a 60 day delay of the april 10th implementation day. so my question is, if you are confirmed before this delay is finalized, will you promise to stop it? >> senator, there is an executive action that addresses with specificity the fiduciary rule and asked department of labor to look at the rule and assess specific questions. will the rule reduce the investment options available to investors?
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will the rule increase litigation? will the rule financially impact retiree investors? and the executive action, as i recall, directs the secretary of labor and the department of labor to repeal or revise the fudishry rule if any criteria is found. that criteria really regulates and determines the department of labor's approach. >> that's the question i'm asking you. we know, for example, that a 60-day delay is estimated to cost americans about $3.7 billion but they are just going to get cheated out of. that is money they will never get back. that is gone to them. so that's the question i am trying to ask about where your values lie, how you see what
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this retirement rule does? how committed you are to protecting the american investor here and retirees so they have a chance to retire with some dignity. >> i don't have access to specific numbers that you have. but if the question is do i think it is important to protect the american retiree, absolutely. i understand that particularly with the demographic changes that we are seeing, retirees are shifting from 401 ks to iras and that the protections under iras -- >> let me stop you there. it is important to protect because the chairman will catch me for being over time. you think it is important to protect retirees. we have a rule here that will protect retirees documented to the terms of $17 billion a year. so i just want to know generally
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do you support this rule? do you think this rule is a good idea? >> senator, with respect to the rule goes far beyond simply addressing the standard of conduct -- >> how does it go beyond addressing the standard of conduct of investment advisers? i have read this rule. this is about the standard of conduct. it says the standard of conduct is that investment adviser can no longer recommend products that earn more money for the investment adviser at the cost of giving worse product to the investor. that is what it is about. that is the question i'm asking on behalf of millions of retirees around this country do you support this rule? >> senator, with respect there is executive action that directs how the department of labor will approach this rule. if i am confirmed as secretary
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of labor i believe and support my following executive orders of the president who would be my boss. >> i have to say this has really been frustrating. you have dodged everyone of my questions. none of these were trick questions. i asked you these questions in my office two weeks ago and you said in all three cases not that you would hide executive order from trump. you said you would get me answers to these. i understand that you may not want to answer my questions, but there are about 150 million american workers who are interested in the answers to these questions. these are questions that determine whether or not they can go to work every day without worrying about getting lung cancer at their work place, whether they are paid fairly for the work when they have enough money to put food on the table and send their kids to college. and whether after a lifetime of back breaking work they are going to have a chance to retire
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with some dignity. if you can't give me straight answers on your views on this, not hide behind executive order, but your views on this and commit to stand up for workers on these obvious and very important issues, then i don't have any confidence you are the right person for this job. thank you, mr. chairman. >> mr. acosta, we'll go to senator murray. i wouldn't have confidence for you if you had answered the question. i think the rule deprives millions of americans of an opportunity for advice. we have a different point of view. have you been asked, directed by the president should you be confirmed to review regulations once you are secretary of labor? >> senator, i have been directed pursuant to executive action. >> are you secretary of labor yet? >> i am not sir. >> would it be presumptuous for
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you to wonder how many regulations you may be reviewing? >> i haven't spoken to individuals at the department of labor about the issue. >> you have specific directions about how to conduct the review should you be confirmed? >> that is correct. >> if you are confirmed you will conduct a review according to directions of the president of the united states and you will try to deliver a fair opinion, is that correct? >> that is correct. >> i might not like it and senator from massachusetts might not like it. i hope you come down to the side that i am. i think it is thoroughly reasonable for you to review a regulation according to the president of the united states's directions after you are secretary of labor. that is my own opinion. senator murray. >> let me just say that i think it is critical that workers do have a true advocate in the
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department of labor. i know i have questions. i know some of my other colleagues do, as well. i hope we get clear thorough responses on that. mr. chairman, i want to ask unanimous consent to enter 15 letters expressing concerns with mr. acosta's nomination to lead department of labor into the record. >> they will be included. i will ask to introduce 19 letters of support -- does that mean i trumped you? 19 letters of support representing 85 groups including some labor unions in support of your nomination. i think we have had a good thorough opportunity to ask questions. are there further questions? i have one question and then we
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will conclude the hearing. thank you for being here. i talked at the very beginning about tom friedman's book which i found really good in trying to capture a lot of the conditions that probably surrounded the last election which is the head spinning acceleration of so many different forces especially causing american workers to not be able to fit into the work place. one area where american workers are still able to fit into the work place is with the franchisees. there are hundreds of thousands. i think the number is about 700,000 americans who have franchises. in other words, they have an opportunity typically in their own town to take restaurant franchise or some other franchise and work 12 hours a day for many years and often it is a family working that long
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for many years. it's a way that you can still live in your own community and work in your own community and be reasonably independent and move your way into the middle class. now, in my way of thinking, the prior administration's joint employer definition that was first established by the national labor of relations board begins to upend the whole concept of franchising and to threaten it making it more likely that a large company would decide not to -- but just own all stores itself. restaurant company that had 800 restaurants instead of 700 frn ch franchises might say under broad definition and seems to be spreading in the department of
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labor. it makes more sense for the parent company to own it depriving hundreds of thousands of americans a chance to be a franchise owner. let me ask you these questions. in order to be treated as the employer of an employee shouldn't business person have direct and immediate control over an employee? >> that is one of the traditional criterias. >> do you believe that indirect control or unexercised potential to control working conditions could make a franchiser and franchisee joint employers? >> that would be an untraditional approach. >> do you think that the person who hires, fires, pays, sets work hours and issues directions to employees should be considered the employer? >> i'm sorry?
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>> hires, fires, pays, sets work hours and issues directions to employees should be considered the employer? >> that is the usual approach, senator. >> thank you, mr. acosta for your patience and for your answers and for your willingness to subject yourself to a confirmation session. i think all in all it went very well. i think part of the reason may be your experience, the fact that you have been before the united states senate three times, nominated by president of the united states and you have been confirmed by the senate. i have no doubt that you will be this time. i look forward to working with you as the secretary of america's workforce in a time when many americans are trying to find a way to fit into work and hopefully working together
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with congress we can make that easier. this committee has a broad array of views, but many times in the past, very important times we have been able to take our differences of opinion and come to a consensus such as our law to fix no child left behind which president obama called a christmas miracle. senator mcconnell called the most important bill of the last congress. so maybe some of the most important work we can do during the next couple of years would have to do with helping the american workforce adjust to the head spinning conditions of which we find ourselves and fit more easily in for the work place. i know that is a concern for the senator from virginia. he has talked to me many times about that. both of us used to be governors. we understand much of that work has to be done.
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we have to understand what it is like in nashville before we issue orders from here. we can have a national interest in it. if senators wish to ask additional questions for the nominee questions for the record are due by close of business tomorrow. for all other matters hearing record will remain open for ten days. members may submit additional information for the record within that time. thank you very much for being here today. the committee will stand adjourned. >> thank you for the courtesy.
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>> do you think it is congress's job to set specific levels like overtime pay threshold? >> i don't know the answer to that. i haven't thought about that. he raised the question of whether the secretary is authorized. all i know is that unrealistic jump causes millions of people to punch time card, fires boy
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scouts counselors. bipartisan proposal to have a sensible approach towards overtime rule. i would hope that is the kind of approach. >> if the salary threshold is increased but perhaps not doubled to a lower amount is that something senate republicans would oppose? >> i can speak for myself but sn we introduced legislation with gradual increase. there are a variety of ways to address overtime issue without such a radical step that seems to have no understanding of what was going on. >> can you speak briefly about health care bill if that gets through the house this week what may lie ahead? would you try to work with that bill? >> we are already working with
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it. we have been working with the house committees. they have accepted a number of suggestions from senators to try to make it as good as it can be as it moves through the house process. this is a reconciliation bill. the affordable care act passed on two tracks. one was the 60 vote track which had a lot of hearings in 2009. one was the reconciliation track in 2010 which took eight days. already the reconciliation track is much more extensive than it was when the affordable care act was passed. we will continue to try to help make the bill as good as they can. we will decide where to go from there. >> do you think the same political forces will be at work between and among republicans on this side as they have been on the other