Donald Trump plans to nominate Andrew Puzder, chief executive of the holding company behind the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's fast-food restaurant chains, as Secretary of Labor.
Trump made the announcement on Thursday afternoon, calling Puzder the "ideal candidate" for the job in a statement. Several media outlets reported the decision earlier in the day. Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, has met with the president-elect twice since his November 8 victory and has made a name for himself as a vocal opponent of raising the federal minimum wage and an advocate of cutting back regulations on the restaurant industry.
Puzder was an economic adviser to Trump's presidential campaign and served as finance chair for Trump's and the GOP's fundraising efforts in California. He donated to his presidential campaign committee and to Rebuilding America Now, a pro-Trump super PAC. He also contributed to super PACs that backed Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina and Jeb Bush during the Republican primaries.
In an op-ed published ahead of the election, Puzder described Trump as a "pragmatic centrist who has broken with both parties to focus on what matters most to ordinary Americans" and the "consummate beltway outsider."
The National Retail Federation praised the choice in a statement.
"Mr. Puzder has been an ally in our efforts to emphasize the dynamic careers available in the retail and restaurant industries, and he would bring to the job his experience in balancing the needs of all stakeholders in the American workforce. NRF is committed to long-term investments in workforce development and we look forward to working with him to advance a strong pro-jobs agenda in Washington," said NRF senior vice president David French in a statement.
Others, however, expressed concern.
Much like Trump's selection of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency, his decision to tap Puzder to head the Labor Department has raised eyebrows, given his oppositional stances to some parts of what the agency does. He is the co-author of the 2010 book "Job Creation: How It Really Works and Why Government Doesn't Understand It."
Puzder has pushed hard against raising the minimum wage. In a 2014 Wall Street Journal op-ed, he argued that a wage hike would result in job cuts and more technology. He has pushed to automate jobs in the past. He told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in April that he believes California's $15 minimum wage hike will cost the state $3.6 billion a year when implemented.
Puzder, 66, also opposes the Affordable Care Act and has blamed it for a "restaurant recession."
The nomination may signal the demise of the Obama administration's Fair Labor Standards Act, the Labor Department's overhaul that would require employers to pay time-and-a-half to full-time employees earning less than $47,476 a year. A federal judge in Texas blocked the overtime rule in November.
Puzder in May penned an op-ed in Forbes criticizing the rule, arguing that it will "simply add to the extensive regulatory maze the Obama Administration has imposed on employers" and in practice would translate to "reduced opportunities, bonuses, benefits, perks and promotions."
While Trump and Puzder see eye-to-eye on a number of issues, one area where they differ may be immigration. "Legal immigrants are an asset to the country," he wrote in a WSJ piece he co-authored with fellow Trump adviser Stephen Moore in July.
Puzder marks Trump's 13th Cabinet-level selection since his election. On a call with press on Thursday morning, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer spoke proudly of the speed at which the president-elect has announced nominees. "We are now over 50% of the administration that has been named, well outpacing any modern administration," he said.