WASHINGTON (CN) —The Senate voted 53-44 on Thursday to confirm Eugene Scalia, the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, as the next head of the Department of Labor.
Scalia faced scrutiny from Senate Democrats at his nomination hearing last week, as they argued his work as a partner with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher often put him on the side of corporations during legal clashes with their employees.
He has previously defended Walmart from whistleblower complaints on termination cases with employees and fought an Obama-era Labor Department rule that required retirement advisers to act in the best interest of their clients.
However, Scalia said during the Sept. 19 hearing that he had mostly advised companies of their obligations to their employees and helped shape anti-discrimination policies while working as an attorney.
Senator Ben Cardin, D-Md., said prior to Thursday’s vote that he opposed Scalia’s nomination and would vote against confirming him as secretary of the Labor Department, where Scalia once served as solicitor under President George W. Bush.
“This is a very important decision for the protection of workers in America and I just don’t think he has the commitment, but we’ll see,” Cardin said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged his Republican colleagues to vote against Scalia’s nomination from the Senate floor Thursday. He said Scalia’s nomination was part of a larger pattern reflecting President Donald Trump’s lack of commitment to working class Americans.
“President Trump has claimed to be a champion for working Americans, but he has filled our government with millionaires and CEOs and folks like Scalia who work for them, with proven records of putting corporate interests before worker interests,” Schumer said. “Do all these Republicans here oppose the Americans with Disabilities Act? Do all these Republicans oppose increasing the minimum wage? Well, if you’re against those kinds of things vote for him, but we’ve gotten a lot of doubletalk.”
Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, similarly said during the floor debate Thursday that Trump’s nomination of Scalia underscored a betrayal of American workers by the government. Brown said Scalia has defended union-busting corporations, including Boeing, in their “never-ending quest to stop workers from having a voice in their company.”
“The president has sent us a corporate lawyer who’s fought over and over to stop workplace protections, to undermine workers’ safety, to cut and depress workers’ wages, over and over and over again,” he said. “He defended a corporation against 30 women who had been sexually harassed at assembly plants, and he’s going to be the secretary of labor?”
Brown added, “It’s not called the secretary of corporate interest or the secretary of special interest, it’s called the secretary of labor. You’re supposed to honor work and respect work.”