The Senate confirmed Eugene Scalia — son of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia — to be the United States' next labor secretary Thursday afternoon by a vote of 53-44 along party lines.
The younger Scalia was nominated by president Trump to fill the position after former Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta resigned in July due to backlash over how he handled the case of now-dead accused child predator Jeffrey Epstein as a federal prosecutor back in 2008. Since Acosta's departure, the role of acting secretary has been filled by former Deputy Secretary Patrick Pizzella.
After briefly working in the George W. Bush Labor Department, Scalia built a resume as a corporate attorney who has represented Wall Street banks, Walmart, UPS, and even SeaWorld, and has a long track record of fighting labor and financial regulations. That professional history put him at odds with Senate Democrats.
Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called Scalia's nomination "a slap to the face of the Labor Department," saying President Trump "could have chosen a union member" instead.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) — the top Democrat on the Senate's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee — said she was "disappointed" in the vote and vowed to "fight every day to hold him and the Trump administration accountable for the harm they're doing to workers."
Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), however, praised the confirmation. GOP Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) called Scalia "an expert in labor, employment, and regulatory law" who has "an unmatched resume of experience in both the private and public sector."
"Eugene Scalia is well-qualified to the lead the Department of Labor with a steady hand at a time when workers' wages are up and unemployment is near record lows," Alexander said in a statement. "Now that Mr. Scalia has been confirmed, I look forward to his getting to work to help continue to grow our economy and help workers gain the skills they need to succeed in today's workplace."