Speeches & Floor Statements

Opening Statement: Eugene Scalia Markup

Posted on September 24, 2019

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will please come to order. 

Today we are voting on the nomination of Eugene Scalia to serve as Secretary of Labor.  

Senator Murray and I will each have an opening statement. 

For the convenience of senators, we have told you we will vote at 10:30. 

If there are senators who wish to speak after the vote, I will stay until all Senators have had the opportunity to speak.

I would like to say a word about Mr. Scalia’s nomination process. 

My Democratic colleagues have asked me to delay today’s markup. 

Here is why I believe it is fair to vote on Mr. Scalia today. 

On July 18, President Trump announced he planned to nominate Mr. Scalia. 

That means senators have had more than two months to consider his nomination and a month to consider all of his paperwork. 

On August 27, the Committee received Mr. Scalia’s Office of Government Ethics (OGE) paperwork, including his public financial disclosure and ethics agreement. Based on these documents, the OGE determined that Mr. Scalia “is in compliance with applicable laws and regulations governing conflicts of interest.”  

On the same day, August 27, the Committee also received his HELP paperwork, which is extensive, additional background information.

So all of Mr. Scalia’s required paperwork has been available for Committee members to review for the last 28 days. 

Since August 27, Mr. Scalia has offered to meet with every member of the HELP Committee and has met with all but two members.

Prior to the hearing Mr. Scalia responded to three letters and extensive written follow-up questions from the Ranking Member, which is additional information we typically receive after the hearing. 

Mr. Scalia also provided us with copies of all of his writings, which he was not required to do. 

Last week, the Committee held a three hour confirmation hearing with Mr. Scalia, and senators submitted 418 questions for the record, all of which Mr. Scalia has answered. 

When President Obama’s Education Secretary stepped down in his last year in office, I encouraged him to nominate John King, with whom I disagreed on many education matters. 

I did this because I believe it is important to have a Secretary of Education confirmed and accountable to the Senate, and because I thought it was important for the elected President of the United States to have his choice of a cabinet member promptly considered and confirmed. 

I held Mr. King’s confirmation hearing six days after we received the last of his paperwork, the Committee voted him out 19 days after receiving his paperwork and within 32 days the full Senate had confirmed Mr. King.  

In comparison, the Committee has had Mr. Scalia’s paperwork for 28 days. 

It would certainly be difficult for me, as Chairman, to justify treating President Trump’s nominees worse than I treated President Obama’s nominees.    

Mr. Scalia is well qualified to lead the Labor Department.  

He is currently a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where he has spent the majority of his career working on labor, employment and regulatory matters. 

From 2002-2003, he served as Solicitor of the U.S. Department of Labor, where he led initiatives to protect workers, reduce unnecessary burdens, and improve enforcement of workplace safety laws.   

Businesses and workers need a Secretary of Labor who will steer the department with a steady hand. 

I believe Mr. Scalia has the skills to help continue to grow our economy and help workers gain the skills they need to succeed in today’s workplace. 

I have received 29 letters in support of Mr. Scalia’s nomination from small business owners, employers, industry groups, and Mr. Scalia’s colleagues and mentees, including a number of women and former career attorneys at the Department of Labor.   

Former Obama Administration official Cass Sunstein wrote, “His decency is part of what makes him someone who tends to go case-by-case, and to end up where the facts and the law take him…He does not have an ideological straightjacket. He takes issues on their merits.”

Cecilia Madan, a deaf immigrant who Mr. Scalia helped with an employment issue, wrote, “I hope you soon will allow this advocate for justice and fairness in the workforce to have an opportunity to serve the people of the United States-my adopted country-as Secretary of Labor.”

And Thomas Susman, who was Senator Kennedy’s Counsel, wrote, “Gene is precisely the kind of person that our country needs in the Cabinet: experienced, ethical, professional, open-minded, fair, and brilliant.”

As I mentioned earlier, the Senate confirmed Mr. King about a month after President Obama said he wanted Mr. King to serve as Education Secretary. 

In this case, it has been more than two months since President Trump announced Mr. Scalia would be the next Labor Secretary.

So I believe it is fair to vote on Mr. Scalia today, and I would encourage my colleagues to support his nomination.