Puzder's Out, and the Race to Delay the DoL Rule Tightens
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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Puzder's Out, and the Race to Delay the DoL Rule Tightens

U.S. President Donald Trump is again searching for someone to lead the Department of Labor, and the clock is ticking if he wants that someone to get the DoL rule delayed in time. Fiduciary reg limbo continues.

Andy Puzder
CKE Restaurants, Inc.
Yesterday afternoon Andy Puzder, CEO of Hardee's and Carl's Jr. parent company CKE Restaurants, tweeted that he is withdrawing as Secretary of Labor nominee, less than 24 hours before he was scheduled to appear before the Senate for his long-delayed confirmation hearing. Puzder's move comes after weeks of him being publicly under fire, for past domestic abuse allegations and for employing an undocumented worker. Another factor seems to have been his generally positive attitude towards immigration.

Puzder is the first Trump cabinet appointee to withdraw from consideration. The WSJ points to Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and former Assistant Secretary of Labor Victoria Lipnic as possible contenders to replacing Puzder. Yet Walker seems to be uninterested in the job: yesterday he tweeted "the future is too bright in WI for me to do anything other than being Governor." As for Lipnic, in January Trump made her acting chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Puzder's withdrawal leaves Trump without a permanent DoL chief even as he tries to delay the DoL's fiduciary rule, which is scheduled to start taking effect on April 10. Washington insiders say that it is highly unlikely that an acting Secretary of Labor, in this case top DoL staffer Edward Hugler, would want to implement any big regulatory changes like modifying or undoing the the fiduciary reg.

That gives Trump a short window in which to vet and nominate a new choice for Secretary of Labor, one that the Senate then promptly confirms. Word is that the DoL would need a public comment period of at least 15 days if it proposes a delay or retraction, so that means Trump would need to get a Secretary of Labor confirmed and pushing the fiduciary reg back by March 25, if not earlier.

Puzder's withdrawal was covered by a host of publications, including: the Kansas City Star; the New York Times; the New Yorker, twice; PlanSponsor; Politico, twice; Reuters; RIABiz; Slate; Vanity Fair; the Wall Street Journal, twice; and even Entertainment Weekly (thanks to Stephen Colbert).

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