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Labor Pick Puzder’s Nomination Hearing Set for Feb. 16

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After being postponed four times, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has scheduled the nomination hearing for Andrew Puzder, President Donald Trump’s choice to be the next Labor secretary, for Feb. 16.

Senate democrats, led by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with ranking member of the HELP committee Sen. Patty Murray, rallied on Capitol Hill Thursday morning along with fast food workers and advocates to call on Puzder to withdraw as Trump’s nominee.

— Check out ThinkAdvisor’s DOL Fiduciary Compliance coverage.

Fast-food executive Puzder’s confirmation hearing had been scheduled to take place on Feb. 7, Feb, 2, Jan. 17 and Jan. 12. The HELP committee had said that it would not “officially notice a confirmation hearing with Mr. Puzder until the committee has received his paperwork from the Office of Government Ethics,” according to a statement provided to ThinkAdvisor by an aide to Sen. Lamar Alexander, the committee’s chairman.

Schumer said in a Thursday statement that Trump “could not have picked a worse nominee to uphold [Labor's] goals than Andrew Puzder. Everything in his career is antithetical to the goals of the Department of Labor.”

Puzder’s career mission statement “would be the exact opposite of the mission statement of the Department of Labor. It would fly in the face of what’s good for the hundreds of millions of working American women and men. Andrew Puzder’s mission statement has been defined by cutting corners and putting profits over people, over his workers.”

News of Puzder’s nomination hearing being set comes a day after a federal trial judge in Texas, Barbara M.G. Lynn, ruled in favor of the Labor Department in the case brought by nine plaintiffs against Labor’s fiduciary rule.

Lynn had promised a ruling by Friday. The nine plaintiffs, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and the Financial Services Institute, sued Labor over its fiduciary rule.

Lynn’s decision is the third legal win for the rule. “Because of the unanimity of the courts … I can’t imagine that more trial court cases or appeals will make a difference,” said Fred Reish, partner in Drinker Biddle & Reath’s employee benefits and executive compensation practice group in Los Angeles.

Indeed, consumer advocate groups urged the trade group board members opposing the rule in a Thursday letter to “stand up against the aggressive anti-investor lobbying tactics” of their trade associations seeking to overturn the fiduciary rule given the three court victories. 

Trump directed DOL on Feb. 3 to review its fiduciary rule, and acting Labor Secretary Ed Hugler said in a statement the same day that Labor would “consider its legal options to delay the applicability of the date as we comply with the president’s memorandum.”

Tom Clark, a lawyer with The Wagner Law Group, sees Hugler acting in “short order” to postpone the fiduciary rule’s April 10 compliance date. DOL “will not wait for Mr. Puzder. The industry needs clarity.”


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