WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Thursday announced law school dean Alexander Acosta as his new labor secretary nominee, one day after his original pick abruptly withdrew from consideration.
Trump said Acosta, who did not appear with the president, "has had a tremendous career." He noted that, unlike Andrew Puzder, Acosta has 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. He is now dean of the Florida International University law school.
Puzder, a fast-food CEO, pulled out on Wednesday after it became clear he lacked the votes to win Senate confirmation.
Trump said he had spoken with Acosta before coming to the East Room for the hastily arranged news conference, where he made the announcement.
"I wish him the best," Trump said.
At a White House event earlier, he had described Acosta -- without identifying him -- as a "star" and a "great person."
Acosta 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.
"He's very people-centric," FIU President Mark Rosenberg told Local 10 News reporter Glenna Milberg. "He's got integrity. He's conscientious. He's thoughtful, and he's deliberate, so I think this is a really good appointment for the country."
Harvard educated, the Gulliver Preparatory School graduate clerked for conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. Acosta later became the first Hispanic assistant attorney general.
Hispanic groups praised the nomination, and Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, a Republican who backed Puzder and will chair Acosta's confirmation hearing, said Acosta's prior Senate confirmations means the "nomination is off to a good start."
Javier Palomarez, president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, called Acosta 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 in a statement.
He said the chamber looks forward to working with Acosta on a host of economic and labor issues.
Puzder pulled out of the process on the eve of his confirmation hearing, which had been scheduled for Thursday, because Republicans balked at an array of personal and professional issues that dogged him. Puzder said he had employed and belatedly paid taxes on a housekeeper not authorized to work in the United States.