Senate should move swiftly to confirm Acosta as Labor secretary

Senate should move swiftly to confirm Acosta as Labor secretary
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President Trump’s nomination of Alex Acosta to head the Department of Labor is an inspired and encouraging choice. Acosta is not only a dedicated public servant, who has held some of the most challenging Federal offices, but he has also earned a reputation for upholding the rule of law and doing what’s right. That’s the kind of leadership America needs at the Department of Labor. 

His work on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has earned him respect from both sides of the aisle. Wilma Liebman, a former Democratic chair of the NLRB, said, “Even though we often came out differently on policy conclusions or the outcome of a case, he was a good colleague and he was always willing to talk and bounce around ideas.” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has praised Acosta’s public service and urged senators to give him “serious consideration.”

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As United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida under President George W. Bush, Acosta was a tenacious prosecutor with an impressive track record. He prosecuted the notorious Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff for public corruption and tax evasion; secured the conviction of Charles Taylor, Jr., son of Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, for human rights violations and torture; and prosecuted and convicted al Qaeda terror plotter Jose Padilla.

I was proud to partner with Acosta to tackle the serious fraud facing our Medicare and Medicaid programs. By implementing a healthcare fraud initiative to defend our most vulnerable citizens, including elderly, disabled and low-income citizens in South Florida, Acosta was able to prosecute defendants who had conspired to submit false bills to Medicare and Medicaid for unnecessary or false services. He also prosecuted companies that defrauded the public by hiring undocumented workers and avoiding their obligations to pay federal and state taxes.

His record enforcing some of our nation’s most important laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, religion and disability, including laws protecting voting rights, access to public accommodations and housing, ensures that no one will caricature Republicans as “soft” on civil rights. 

In just his first year as assistant attorney general, the Justice Department filed more new criminal civil rights prosecutions than in any prior single year; launched a comprehensive assault on human trafficking; mounted the most extensive monitoring program for federal elections ever undertaken; filed and successfully resolved more minority language ballot access cases than in the prior eight years combined; fought race discrimination in lending and in public accommodations; secured accessibility for disabled citizens to thousands of housing units; and brought suit to protect the rights of juveniles in state institutions. 

Acosta’s professional track record of enforcement, protecting the underprivileged and deep knowledge of labor issues will serve him well as our next secretary of Labor. His fair and open-minded approach has made him a role model of success for so many. Far from just a Hispanic success, he is an American success. 

Given his stellar record, it is hardly surprising that Acosta has been confirmed three times by the United States Senate to high federal office, each time unanimously. I expect the Senate to once again swiftly and overwhelmingly give its advice and consent to Alex Acosta as secretary of Labor. The American workforce and our economy will be better off for it.

Martinez served in the Senate from 2005 to 2009. He also served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President George W. Bush.


The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.