Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta will be pressed to defend the Trump administration's many reversals of former President Barack Obama's workforce policies when he appears before a congressional panel Wednesday morning, the first time he will testify to lawmakers since his confirmation hearing.
The Trump administration has rolled back decisions regarding overtime pay, corporate legal liability, and fiduciary responsibility, among others, arguing that the Obama-era Labor Department exceeded its authority.
"The Department of Labor is on the front line of the issues facing America’s workers and job creators, and sets policies that have a widespread impact on the economy, employment, retirement security, and more. It is a key responsibility of this committee to conduct oversight of this important department, and we look forward to hearing Secretary Acosta testify for the first time since his confirmation," said Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., chairwoman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.
Democrats indicated that they will use the opportunity to put Acosta on the spot for those reversals. "Over the last 10 months, the Trump administration has laid the groundwork to undermine workers’ wages, retirement security, health, safety, and skill development," committee Democrats said.
The Labor Department this year began the process of rewriting the federal overtime rule. Acosta has repeatedly said that the Obama administration went too far when it nearly doubled the number of workers who are covered by the rule, which requires that employees be paid time and a half once they exceed 40 hours in a week. The department is expected to significantly scale back the rule.
The department also has delayed implementation of the Obama-era “fiduciary rule” that would make it possible for investors to bring class-action suits against brokers. It has indicated that it will significantly revise the rule.
In June, Acosta rolled back an Obama administration rule that expanded the "joint employer" doctrine, the conditions for when one business can be held liable for employment and civil rights law violations at another company. The move marks a win for business groups, which had staunchly opposed the Obama rule.