Secretary of Labor nominee Andrew Puzder is expected to finally have his confirmation hearing before a Senate committee Thursday morning.
The fast food CEO is likely to face tough questioning over his anti-regulatory comments in recent years, as well as his controversial stances on labor in general.
Most interesting will be his position on the DOL fiduciary rule. While he is most certainly opposed to the rule, Puzder has yet to specifically address the Obama regulation of retirement accounts.
The fiduciary rule is set to begin taking effect April 10. With time running out, President Donald J. Trump ordered the DOL to seek to delay the rule while studying its impact on small savers.
The DOL filed a notice to seek a delay under the signature of Interim Secretary Edward Hugler. Getting Puzder in place will only help the DOL in developing a coordinated overall strategy on the rule.
Formerly CEO of CKE Restaurants, Puzder views regulation the way a dog views a bath. While he’s been silent on the DOL rule, he was sharply critical of the DOL overtime rule last year.
“Things would be much better across our economy if government regulators would back off,” he wrote in his blog.
A harsh critic of California’s regulated business environment, Puzder is moving his CKE employees from the Golden State and St. Louis into one office in the income-tax-free Nashville.
He has spoken out against California’s new overtime labor rules and minimum wage increases. Strict business regulations and high taxes stifle economic growth, Puzder has said in his blog.
Tough Questions Ahead
Only 11 Democrats sit on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that will grill Puzder. However, that group includes Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Al Franken, D-Minn., who have emerged as the three toughest opposition questioners during the cabinet confirmation process.
With controversial nominees Betsy DeVos (Education Secretary), Stephen Mnuchin (Treasury Secretary) and Tom Price (Health and Human Services Secretary) already confirmed, Puzder will face the full pent-up wrath of the Democrats. His hearing has been postponed three times.
Warren set the tone this week with a 28-page letter to the labor nominee that included 83 questions.
"My staff's review of your 16-year tenure as CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc., the parent company of Hardee's and Carl's Jr., reveals that you've made your fortune by squeezing the very workers you'd be charged with protecting as Labor Secretary out of wages and benefits," Warren wrote. "Your company's record of prolific labor law abuses and discrimination suits - the most of any major burger chain - gives me great pause given that as Labor Secretary you'd be charged with enforcing these very laws.”
Puzder has been dogged by controversy since Trump tabbed him for the post. In the latest news, the businessman admitted to employing an undocumented worker as a housekeeper.
Puzder said in a statement that he and his wife were unaware the housekeeper was not legally permitted to work in the U.S. during the years they employed her.
While Democrats can subject Puzder to tough questioning, but with just 48 votes, they have little chance of blocking his appointment.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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