Overnight Regulation: Trump's new Labor pick | Trump undoes Obama coal mining rule

Overnight Regulation: Trump's new Labor pick | Trump undoes Obama coal mining rule
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Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill, the courts and beyond. It's Thursday evening here in Washington where President Trump's critics said it felt life Festivus after he spent much of his first full press conference airing his grievances with the intelligence community, the press and Senate Democrats.

Now its time for the feats of strength... "Seinfeld" fans know what I'm talking about. 

 

THE BIG STORIES 

President Trump on Thursday announced he was nominating Alexander Acosta to be his Labor secretary, less than 24 hours after his first nominee for the position withdrew amid criticism from Republican senators.

"He has had a tremendous career," Trump said of Acosta in a press conference at the White House, listing off highlights of his nominee's resume. Acosta was not present at the press conference.

"I think he'll be a tremendous secretary of Labor," the president added, noting that Acosta has gotten through the Senate confirmation process before.

Acosta is a former member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and is currently the dean of Florida International University's law school.

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A Republican, Acosta served on the NLRB from December 2002 to August 2003 and authored more than 125 opinions, according to his bio on FIU's website.

A Harvard law graduate, he was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2003 to be the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. 

Acosta was the first Hispanic U.S. assistant attorney general and longest-serving U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. 

If confirmed, he would be Trump's first Hispanic Cabinet member. 

Trump was scheduled to meet with members of the Republican National Committee (RNC) on Thursday afternoon as a courtesy to discuss possible candidates for the Labor secretary position, a source familiar with discussions said. 

Picking Acosta ahead of that meeting, the source said, is a surprise and another example that the White House and the RNC are not on the same page. 

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderGroups warn of rural health 'crisis' under ObamaCare repeal Trump’s Army pick faces tough confirmation fight Trump faces risky ObamaCare choice MORE (R-Tenn.) praised Acosta's nomination, noting he has been confirmed by the Senate three times before.

"He has an impressive work and academic background," Alexander said. "We will schedule a hearing promptly after his nomination papers arrive in the Senate, and I look forward to exploring his views on how American workers can best adjust to the rapidly changing workplace."

Acosta's selection came a day after Trump's previous labor pick, Andrew Puzder released a statement withdrawing his nomination after it became apparent that he did not have the votes to get confirmed.

Puzder had been slated to have his Senate hearing on Thursday.

Senate leaders had warned the White House that anywhere from four to 12 Republicans planned to oppose Puzder, sinking his chances, according to a CNN report.

Puzder had been under attack by Democrats and labor unions for his record of labor violations as the CEO of the fast food conglomerate CKE Restaurants Inc., which owns the burger chains Hardee's and Carl's Jr.

And he was sure to face tough questions during his hearing on why he hired an illegal immigrant housekeeper and why his ex-wife Lisa Fierstein had accused him of physically abusing her -- accusations she has since retracted.

Business groups were quick to praise Trump for selecting a new nominee so quickly.

"We look forward to learning more about Alexander Acosta and his position on the issues important to the restaurant industry," Cicely Simpson, executive vice President of the National Restaurant Association, said in a statement.

But Allied Progress accused Trump of failing to vet another nominee.

In a statement from the liberal group, Executive Director Karl Frisch called Acosta "wholly unqualified for the job."

"We understand that the President is still reeling from his last failed Labor nomination, but that doesn't mean he should nominate someone who is wholly unqualified for the job," he said.  

"Americans deserve a Secretary of Labor who will fight for workplace safety, fair wages, and the rights of working families. It's clear Mr. Acosta is not that person."

Puzder's withdrawal followed National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's resignation Monday night. Flynn had reportedly misled senior White House officials about his conversations with Russia.

Read the full story on Acosta here.

 

It was a busy day for Trump. 

The president also signed legislation Thursday to end a coal mining rule aimed at protecting waterways from coal mining waste.

As The Hill's Devin Henry reports, this was the second piece of legislation Trump has signed into law to undo an Obama-era environmental rule. Earlier this week he signed a resolution to do away with a financial disclosure requirement for energy companies. 

GOP lawmakers have been using the Congressional Review Act as a new found tool to assail rules finalized in the waning days of the Obama administration. 

The rule is reportedly among the former administration's most controversial with industry complaining it was too costly to implement. 

Read the full story here

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW 

Washington court rules against florist who refused flowers for gay wedding 

Judge orders release of EPA nominee’s emails

Keystone developer reapplies for Nebraska permit

Dems blast McConnell for not delaying vote on EPA nominee

Senate Dems plan all-night protest over Trump's EPA pick

Court agrees to revisit ruling against consumer bureau

Gorsuch hearing date set for March 20 

Sanders introduced bill to boost Social Security 

House votes to let states deny federal funds to abortion providers 

CMS nominees breezes through confirmation hearing 

Senate Dem blasts GOP for trying to repeal broadband privacy rules

NY state financial cybersecurity rule taking effect in March

Flynn in FBI interview denied discussing sanctions with Russian ambassador – The Washington Post

Amid all the intrigue, where's the director of national intelligence? – NPR 

Trump says he will unveil overhauled immigration order next week – Reuters

 

TODAY'S REG COUNT 

11: Proposed rules

7: Final rules 

(Source: Federal Register)

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"I don't mind bad stories, I can handle a bad story better than anybody, as long as it's true," Trump said while blasting the media during his press conference Thursday. Read more on Trump's presser here.