Senate Labor Committee Approves Scalia’s Nomination
A Senate panel yesterday narrowly approved the nomination of Eugene Scalia to become the Labor Department's top lawyer, despite criticism from Democrats and labor unions about his views on ergonomics regulations, the
AP/Baltimore Sun reports. Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.) joined all 10 Republicans on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in supporting the nomination, approved by an 11-10 vote. As Labor Department solicitor, Scalia's job would be to enforce about 200 labor laws and provide counsel on department initiatives. Labor lawyer Scalia, the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, was criticized by unions and Democrats for his opposition to workplace safety rules issued by the Clinton administration, which he called "quackery" and "junk science" (AP/Baltimore Sun, 10/17). During his confirmation hearing last month, Scalia said he believed that ergonomics-related injuries existed. He said he believed that the regulations promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration just before President Clinton left office "went too far."
HELP Committee Chair Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass), who has threatened to challenge Scalia's nomination on the Senate floor, yesterday said, "We need a solicitor whose background and experience reflect a genuine commitment to the rights and protections of workers across this country." He added, "A solicitor who does not believe in the dangers of ergonomics would be like a high official at the EPA who does not believe in the dangers of pollution or a high-level official at the EEOC who does not believe in discrimination." But Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), the committee's ranking member, noted that Congress voted in March to repeal the Clinton regulations, showing that Scalia's views on the rules were not "out of the mainstream," as Kennedy had said. "Mr. Scalia is being opposed for a lot of reasons that make no sense in a confirmation hearing. You can't create a bunch of issues out there that simply have no depth to them and then claim the person violated those issues and can't attain the nomination," Gregg said (Johnson, Boston Globe, 10/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.