Eminently Qualified: Eugene Scalia Merits Senate Confirmation as Labor Secretary

By at 23 September, 2019, 9:42 pm

Small Business Insider

By Karen Kerrigan-

The regulatory scope and various initiatives of the U.S. Labor Department impact America’s small businesses in significant ways. Many of the challenges small business owners experience in operating and growing their enterprises – especially in the tight labor market – relate to human capital issues. The cost of labor, and the rules and regulations promulgated and administered by the Labor Department often exacerbate those challenges. Therefore, entrepreneurs want a fair, open-minded and qualified individual to lead this federal department.

Eugene Scalia embodies these essential attributes, and his nomination to be the next Secretary of Labor deserves the support of every U.S. Senator.

(See SBE Council’s letter to Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) in support of Mr. Scalia’s confirmation here.)

Unprejudiced minds who still believe that qualifications and experience matter for these key federal leadership positions, will find Mr. Scalia’s background quite impressive. He is among the best-known labor and employment lawyers in the country and would be one of the most qualified nominees ever put forward for Secretary of Labor. He served as Solicitor during the George W. Bush administration, and during his service fairly applied workplace safety laws, minimum wage and overtime requirements, and other statutes administered by the department.

At the same time, he listened to the small business community regarding outdated or potentially excessive regulation that would have made it more difficult for small firms to compete and hire employees, or for new businesses to launch. The U.S. economy is highly dependent on robust entrepreneurship and small business growth, therefore a Labor Secretary who takes into account small business impact, as he or she deliberates proposed actions or new initiatives, is critical to the future of startup activity and quality job creation.

At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on September 19, Mr. Scalia reinforced the notion that proposed regulations have unintended consequences and it’s essential that government explore the “downstream consequences” of potential action, whether that be on small businesses, other industries, or workers in general.

This mainstream thinking is needed in every government regulatory agency and department and why it is encouraging to see Cass Sunstein, former Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in President Obama’s administration, support Mr. Scalia’s nomination.

Mr. Scalia assured Senators at his confirmation hearing that he will fully and faithfully execute the laws passed by Congress regarding workforce safety, health, discrimination and in other areas. Again, based on his record, it is clear Mr. Scalia respects the mission of the Labor Department and the rule of law, as validated by his battle with Enron supporting employees and retirees from losses of the company’s pension plans, his support of the longshoreman’s union in their long dispute with West Coast shippers, and a lengthy list of other actions where he faithfully applied the law on minimum wage, overtime and employer safety obligations.

Mr. Scalia’s dialog with Senators during his confirmation hearing showed a thoughtful and engaging leader who has extraordinary knowledge of our labor laws, the complex operations of the Labor Department, and ever-changing dynamics that affect labor markets. Moreover, he clearly and authentically demonstrated his willingness to work with Senators on their key issues of concern.

The dignity and demeanor Mr. Scalia brought to his confirmation hearing made it very difficult for partisans to “attack” his credibility and work. That is because he is eminently qualified to serve as our next Labor Secretary, and they know it.

Finding and competing for human capital continues to be a top issue of concern for small businesses. In our competitive global marketplace, outdated or inappropriate government actions that significantly raise the cost of labor or make it more difficult to hire employees is especially challenging for startups or small businesses.

A Labor Secretary who understands the evolving economic and competitive landscape, and who can take a balanced approach toward protecting workers and the health of the job-creating sector is vital to America’s economic future. An objective review of Mr. Scalia’s career, devotion to the rule of law, pro bono work on behalf of employees, and actions taken during public service at the Labor Department demonstrate he is eminently qualified to be its next leader.

Mr. Scalia’s qualifications and engaging leadership are the right fit for this dynamic period, and every Senator should vote “yes” to confirm him as U.S. Labor Secretary.

Karen Kerrigan is president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.

News and Media Releases