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Sen. Warren Grills Puzder in Letter on DOL Fiduciary Ahead of Hearing

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren D-Mass., grilled Labor secretary nominee Andrew Puzder in a 28-page letter on Monday about how he’d deal with a range of issues, including minimum wage, the Wells Fargo fake-accounts scandal, enforcing labor laws, and the directive issued by President Donald Trump to review Labor’s fiduciary rule.

Fast-food executive Puzder’s initial confirmation hearing before the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee takes place on Thursday.

Warren, as a member of the HELP Committee, in her letter to Puzder, told him to answer 83 questions by Feb. 21 on how he’d go about performing the analysis of the fiduciary rule, as directed by Trump on Feb. 3.

“Part of your job as Labor secretary will be to ensure that DOL’s rule to protect savers from financial advisor conflicts of interest is fully implemented and enforced,” Warren wrote.

She noted that besides reviewing the rule, Trump asked the Labor Department to perform an “updated economic and legal analysis” of the rule’s likely impact.

Depending on the results of this analysis, she continued, the department is directed to “publish a new rule or rescind the rule,” she wrote.

Besides asking which staff would perform the analysis, and what information would be reviewed, Warren queried Puzder on whether he would “enforce it [the rule] to the full extent of the law” if it takes effect on its first compliance date of April 10.

DOL filed a notice on Thursday with the Office of Management and Budget to delay implementation of its fiduciary rule via a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

The notice filed by acting Labor Secretary Edward Hugler at OMB Thursday does not say how long Labor plans to delay the rule’s April 10 compliance date, though 180 days has been widely discussed. 

Warren also asked Puzder if he would continually update Congress on Labor’s assessment of the fiduciary rule.

Warren lambasted Puzder in the letter.

Wrote Warren: “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.”

“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.”

The letter continued: “In addition to your role as CEO at CKE, your long record of public comments reveals a sneering contempt for the workers in your stores, and a vehement opposition to the laws you will be charged with enforcing.”

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