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Senate Finally Confirms EBSA Nominee Gomez

Regulatory Agencies

After waiting for more than a year since her nomination was first announced, Lisa Gomez has finally been confirmed to lead the Employee Benefits Security Administration.  

In what appeared to be a party-line vote, with several senators not voting, the U.S. Senate on Sept. 29 confirmed the nomination of Gomez to serve as Assistant Secretary for EBSA at the Department of Labor by a vote of 49-36.[1]

This past June, when it looked like Gomez might finally be confirmed, the Senate voted 49-51 against her nomination by a party line vote, except for Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY).  When it became evident that the Senate did not have the votes sufficient[2] to confirm Gomez, Schumer voted “no” on her nomination—a procedural move that allowed him to bring her nomination back up for another vote.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) had voted for Gomez during the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s consideration of her nomination, but switched to vote “no” for both the full Senate vote in June and for the Sept. 29th vote.  

President Biden first announced Gomez’s nomination in July 2021, but she had to be renominated in January 2022 after the Senate adjourned for the year without considering her nomination. She also had to be considered again by the Senate HELP Committee, which first held a hearing on her nomination in October 2021. Her nomination apparently stalled though, after various Republicans wanted more information on her views about ESG investing.  

Gomez currently is a partner at labor law firm Cohen, Weiss and Simon LLP, representing employer and union pension plans. She joined the firm in 1994 and became a partner in 2002.

Once she is sworn in, she will replace Ali Khawar, who has been serving as Acting Assistant Secretary for EBSA since the early days of the Biden administration. He will likely resume his position as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary.

[1] In general, Senate rules require that a quorum of at least 51 members be present to conduct business and this type of vote, and that a majority of those in attendance support the nomination.

[2] At the time, Vice President Kamala Harris was out of town and could not be on hand to serve as the tie-breaking vote.