Republicans praised President Donald Trump's nomination Thursday of law school dean R. Alexander Acosta for labor secretary, a day after Andrew Puzder withdrew after it became clear he lacked the Senate votes to win confirmation.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio called Acosta "a phenomenal choice to lead the Department of Labor.
"Whether it was his distinguished service as U.S. attorney in Florida's Southern District or as dean of Florida International University's school of law, Alex has succeeded in all endeavors he has taken on — and managing the Department of Labor will be no different.
"I look forward to his confirmation hearing, where I'm confident he will impress my colleagues and secure the support necessary to be the next secretary of labor."
Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who will chair Acosta's confirmation hearing, said his three prior Senate confirmations meant the "nomination is off to a good start."
"He has an impressive work and academic background," he added. "We will schedule a hearing promptly after his nomination papers arrive in the Senate.
"I look forward to exploring his views on how American workers can best adjust to the rapidly changing workplace."
Alexander chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Acosta, 48, is the dean of the Florida International University School of Law. He has served on the National Labor Relations Board and as a federal prosecutor in Florida.
He was named assistant attorney general for civil rights by President George W. Bush. Acosta is chairman of U.S. Century Bank in Miami.
The son of Cuban immigrants, Acosta was born in Miami and a graduate of Harvard University and the Harvard Law School.
Trump said Acosta "has had a tremendous career" and noted he had been confirmed by the Senate three times and "did very, very well."
If confirmed anew by the Senate, Acosta would become the first Hispanic member of Trump's Cabinet.
Puzder, 66, CEO of CKE Restaurants Inc., pulled out Wednesday — a day before his confirmation hearing — amid an array of personal and professional issues that dogged him since his nomination in December.
He admitted to employing, and belatedly paying taxes on, a housekeeper who was not authorized to work in the United States.
Other issues arose concerning his former marriage — and Democrats, labor and other groups ushered out employees at Puzder's Hardee's and Carl's Jr. restaurants who said they had been treated poorly.
The groups said they would present such workers at his confirmation hearing.
At least five Republicans had said they could not support Puzder amid the rancor.
"I wish him the best," Trump said of his previous nominee.
Hispanic groups and business organizations praised Acosta's nomination, with Javier Palomarez, president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, calling him an "outstanding choice."
"His record reflects a skill set and expertise both in the private and public sector which will serve the administration and the nation greatly," Palomarez said.
Cicely Simpson, executive vice President of the National Restaurant Association, said her organization looked "forward to learning more about Alexander Acosta and his position on the issues important to the restaurant industry."
Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, said hailed Acosta's nomination as "a positive sign that change is coming.
"In recent years, regulations coming out of the Department of Labor have too often been overreaching and counterproductive, harming manufacturers' abilities to create jobs and do what's best for the millions of hard-working men and women employed in manufacturing careers.
"We are hopeful that he will listen to manufacturers' concerns as we work to strengthen employer-employee relationships and provide workers with the right skills to succeed," he said.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Acosta's nomination "deserves serious consideration.
"In one day, we've gone from a fast-food CEO who routinely violates labor law to a public servant with experience enforcing it.
"We will of course review Mr. Acosta's record as thoroughly as we did the previous nominee's," Trumka added in a statement. "Mr. Acosta will have to answer tough questions and explain how he will enforce and uphold labor laws to benefit working people and not further tilt the balance of power toward corporate CEOs."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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