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Senate readies floor vote for Labor pick Acosta

042617 SHiggins Acosta Cloture pic
The Senate voted 61-39 to invoke cloture on the nomination, assuring a full Senate vote on Acosta within 30 hours. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The Senate moved Wednesday to get President Trump's nominee for labor secretary, Alexander Acosta, confirmed by the end of the week.

The Senate voted 61-39 to invoke cloture on the nomination, assuring a full Senate vote on Acosta within 30 hours. Nine Democrats voted with all of the Republicans, indicating that Acosta will have an easy time getting confirmation.

Acosta, a former assistant attorney general for civil rights during President George W. Bush's administration, is one of the last Cabinet nominees left unconfirmed by the Senate. Trump picked Acosta in mid-February after his previous pick for the office, fast-food businessman Andy Puzder, withdrew.

"The #Senate should confirm Acosta to lead @USDOL ASAP. The sooner we do, the sooner he can advance labor policies that puts our economy 1st," tweeted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee, noted that the Senate had already confirmed Acosta three times for other positions. In addition to his time at the Justice Department, Acosta was a member of the National Labor Relations Board, the main federal labor law enforcement agency, from 2002-03 and a U.S. attorney for the southern district of Florida. Prior to his current nomination, he was dean for Florida Univeristy Law School.

"We are fortunate to have a presidential nominee for labor secretary who understands how a good-paying job is critical to helping workers realize the American dream for themselves and for their families. Alexander Acosta became the first person in his family to go to college and from there has had an impressive career ... I expect that we'll confirm him a fourth time for his most important position," Alexander said.

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a coalition group, urged the Senate to reject Acosta, stating that he had been "evasive in his testimony" before a Senate committee in March. He declined to answer questions about the fiduciary rule, pay equity for women and minimum wage. Acosta said that he could not answer because the new administration had put all the policies under review.

Still, Acosta faced far less opposition than Puzder did. The nine Senate Democrats who voted for cloture were Virginia's Mark Warner, West Virginia's Joe Manchin, North Dakota's Heidi Keitkamp, New Jersey's Bob Menendez, Nevada's Catherine Cortez Masto, Montana's Jon Tester, Missouri's Claire McCaskill, Florida's Bill Nelson and Maine's Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats. No Republican opposed cloture.