April 25, 2017

Alexander Acosta to be Secretary of Labor

  • Alex Acosta has previously been confirmed unanimously by the Senate for three different positions.
  • He was a U.S. attorney for four years and was the first Hispanic to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
  • He wants to make sure that the Labor Department does a better job of aligning job training with the skills that workers need to have.  


On March 7, the Senate received the nomination of Alexander Acosta to be secretary of labor. A native of Miami and the son of Cuban immigrants, he has served as dean of the Florida International University College of Law since 2009. Previously, Mr. Acosta was unanimously confirmed by the Senate to three positions. From June 2005 to June 2009, he served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida. He was confirmed by voice vote on August 3, 2006. From August 2003 to June 2005, he was the first Hispanic to hold the position of assistant attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, a position to which he was confirmed by voice vote on August 1, 2003. He also served as principal deputy assistant attorney general and deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division. From December 2002 to August 2003, he was a member of the National Labor Relations Board, having been confirmed by voice vote on November 14, 2002.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Acosta clerked for Judge Samuel Alito on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, practiced law at the firm of Kirkland & Ellis, and taught employment law at the George Mason School of Law. He earned degrees from Harvard College and from Harvard Law School. 

Senate Action

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a confirmation hearing for Mr. Acosta on March 22. On March 30, the committee favorably reported the nomination by a vote of 12-11. The majority leader filed cloture on the nomination on April 24. A vote on cloture is expected on Wednesday, April 26.


Mr. Acosta stated in his testimony: “We can and must work to reduce the skills gap. We need to make better efforts to align job training with the skills the market demands of its workers, especially as advancing technology changes the types of jobs available in our economy. … If confirmed, I will work … to maximize the impact of every taxpayer dollar Congress directs towards job training programs.” 

HELP Chairman Alexander said: “Alexander Acosta understands how excessive regulation can destroy jobs and make it harder for family incomes to rise. He has an impressive work and academic background, and his nomination has drawn support from workers across the country.”   

Issue Tags: Senate, Labor, Banking, Economy