Alexander Acosta, President Trump's nominee to run the Labor Department, is unlikely to get a floor confirmation vote next week when the Senate reconvenes, Republican sources speaking anonymously indicate. The first week in May likely would be the earliest it will be scheduled, assuming it isn't delayed again.
Getting someone to run the Labor Department has been a vexing problem for Trump, who saw his first pick for the post, fast-food businessman Andy Puzder withdraw his bid in February. Acosta, dean of Florida International University Law and a former assistant attorney general for civil rights during President George W. Bush's administration, was tapped shortly afterward to replace him.
Acosta was approved by the Senate Health Education, Labor and Pension Committee last month on a party-line vote and has been waiting for the full Senate to take him up since. GOP sources, speaking anonymously, said there is no particular concern regarding Acosta — he just keeps getting bumped by other issues that are deemed higher priorities like Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court nomination.
While Democrats have been critical of Acosta, he has not faced the same level of opposition that Puzder did. Acosta also has the support of some major unions, rare for a Republican appointee. The International Union of Operating Engineers, the Laborers' International Union of North America and the International Association of Fire Fighters have endorsed him.
The delay, however, is holding up the Trump administration on other labor-related appointments, according to sources involved in the transition. The National Labor Relations Board, the main federal labor law enforcement agency, has two vacancies. Trump's nominations could give the five-member board a Republican majority, but the administration is waiting until Acosta is confirmed before it will announce them.
The labor board picks are being strictly vetted as well. Puzder's nomination collapsed due to claims (since retracted) by his ex-wife that he was abusive during their late 1980s divorce. The Trump White House doesn't want a re-run of that, said a lobbyist for a major Washington trade association who requested anonymity.