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Senate Confirms Walsh as Labor Secretary

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What You Need to Know

  • Walsh, a Democrat, was sworn in to serve a second term as mayor of Boston on Jan.1, 2018.
  • Senate has now confirmed all 15 of President Joe Biden’s cabinet secretaries.

The full Senate voted 68-29 late Monday to confirm Marty Walsh as Labor Secretary.

The news comes roughly five weeks after the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 18-4 to advance Walsh’s nomination to the full Senate.

Walsh, a Democrat, was sworn in to serve a second term as mayor of Boston on Jan.1, 2018. He was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1997 to 2014, representing the 13th Suffolk district.

“I am incredibly honored and privileged to serve as the United States’ next Secretary of Labor,” Walsh said in a statement after the vote. “I am grateful for the bipartisan support of members of the Senate, and I want to thank President Biden and Vice President Harris for their confidence in my ability to lead the Department of Labor during such a critical time in our nation’s history.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in remarks on the Senate floor before the vote that the Labor Department “is in desperate need of a leader with Mayor Walsh’s perspective.

For the past four years, under President Trump and Secretary [Eugene] Scalia, unfortunately, sadly, the Labor Department has too often sided with Corporate America, not the working people of America who it was formed to help.”

With Walsh’s confirmation, the Senate will have confirmed all 15 of President Joe Biden’s cabinet secretaries, Schumer said.

Dale Brown, president and CEO of the Financial Services Institute, said Monday in a statement that with “increased discussions around worker classification, we encourage Secretary Walsh to preserve the independent contractor status for advisors who choose the independent model to better serve their clients and operate their own business.”

FSI also looks forward “to engaging with the Department to ensure the success of its recent prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) for investment advice fiduciaries,” Brown said. Labor’s PTE “is an example of how collaboration across regulatory agencies and the industry can lead to effective rulemaking that provides consistent regulatory standards and reduces confusion.”

Wayne Chopus, president and CEO of the Insured Retirement Institute, said Monday in a statement that IRI looks forward “to partnering with Secretary Walsh and his team to complete the implementation of the landmark retirement legislation passed by Congress in 2019, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Security (SECURE) Act.”

In a surprise move, Labor allowed the Trump administration’s fiduciary prohibited transaction exemption to go into effect on Feb. 16.

The exemption, called “Improving Investment Advice for Worker & Retirees,” is “broadly aligned” with the Security and Exchange Commission’s Regulation Best Interest, according to Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Labor, however, said on March 10 that it will abandon two rules adopted under the Trump administration that would have made it more difficult for retirement plans to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in their investment options and in their proxy votes.

(Photo: Bloomberg)