Installation of Acting DOL Officials May Accelerate Biden Agenda

December 11, 2020

The Biden transition team is moving to fill key Department of Labor leadership roles as quickly as possible by inserting individuals into “acting” roles instead of waiting for nominees to obtain Senate confirmation.

These include acting leaders at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration—who will be immediately responsible for rolling out a national OSHA COVID-19 emergency standard—and the Wage and Hour Division, among other areas within the Labor Department that carry significant regulatory weight.

Among the names being floated to fill these positions are labor leaders Sonia Ramirez, a former top lobbyist for North America’s Building Trades Unions, and former United Steelworkers safety official Jim Frederick.

The first 100 days of the Biden presidency will likely see the Labor Department attempt a number of reversals of Trump administration policy as well as a tougher enforcement regime.   

However, per the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, in general, officials serving in an acting capacity will lose much of their authority 300 days after a president is sworn in.

The Biden administration will ultimately seek to install officials through the nomination and Senate confirmation process following the posting of acting leadership.  The individuals selected are expected to be determined with the input of the DOL nominee, once identified.