WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins joined fellow Republicans on a Senate committee Tuesday to advance the nomination of President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Labor Department and later said she will vote to confirm attorney Eugene Scalia to the post.
A Senate panel approved attorney the Republican president’s nomination of Scalia, the son of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, along party lines on Tuesday. The Republican-led Senate is expected to confirm Scalia to the post as soon as this week.
Business groups viewed Scalia as a reliable opponent of regulatory overreach and urged the committee to advance him. The AFL-CIO, a coalition of labor unions, opposed Scalia, with its Maine affiliate saying he has “a long, shameful record of siding with corporations over workers.”
Scalia’s time as a corporate attorney was picked apart by Democrats. He was part of a group of lawyers representing Bath Iron Works in a 2007 federal court case that the shipyard won against unions who filed a labor dispute over changes to a pension plan.
In a lengthy Tuesday statement, Collins cited a $10 million settlement against poultry processors that Scalia won as the Labor Department’s top lawyer during the George W. Bush administration as well as his pro-bono legal work on behalf of individual workers and his stated support of the H-2B visa program among her reasons for the vote.
“Based on Mr. Scalia’s qualifications and his testimony, I voted to advance his nomination for consideration by the full Senate,” Collins said.
The committee’s chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Scalia’s work as a law firm partner on labor and employment matters qualified him for the job. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the committee’s top Democrat, said Scalia would be a “yes man” for what she called the Trump administration’s anti-worker agenda.
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who caucuses with Democrats, said in a Monday statement that he was still reviewing Scalia’s record, but “from what I have seen he does not show much interest in protecting American workers — a troublesome characteristic for a potential Labor Secretary.”
The Associated Press and BDN writer Michael Shepherd contributed to this report.