- The Washington Times - Friday, August 17, 2001

Eugene Scalia faces a contentious confirmation hearing when Congress returns next month, but Bush administration officials say they have the votes needed to confirm him as Labor Department solicitor.
Mr. Scalia, a labor lawyer and the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, strongly opposes an ergonomics regulation supported by Democrats, which he has called "junk science." Congress rejected the regulation last year.
Democrats say Mr. Scalia has views that will be challenged during the hearing. They stop short of predicting whether his nomination will fail on a committee vote expected in early October.
"We would hope and expect full and fair hearings and don't believe we have any reason to think otherwise at this point," a White House spokeswoman said. "We hope that Mr. Scalia is given a full opportunity to explain his viewpoints."
Senate Republicans are proceeding with caution and say Mr. Scalia's confirmation process may be more difficult than that faced by Mary Sheila Gall, Mr. Bush's failed nominee to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
"Democrats are beginning to cherry-pick nominees they feel don't pass the right litmus test," said one Republican aide speaking on the condition of anonymity. "We have seen how the Democrats treated Mary Sheila Gall, and we are concerned this might head in the same direction."
Miss Gall's nomination was unanimously blocked last month by Democrats in the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. A full Senate vote on her nomination was refused.
Senate Republicans expect tough questioning from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, when Mr. Scalia's hearing is held Sept. 20.
Mr. Kennedy has "serious concerns" about Mr. Scalia's record on ergonomics rules, his spokesman said.
Ergonomics rules were proposed to protect workers against repetitive-motion injures by regulating designs of equipment and facilities, work pace and staff levels.
"Mr. Scalia has ridiculed the science behind the proposed regulation, and Mr. Kennedy strongly disagrees with him," said spokesman Jim Manley. "There have been dozens of serious studies which demonstrate this is a serious workplace issue, and we expect a lot of questioning about that."
In a study for the Cato Institute, Mr. Scalia cited medical uncertainty about claims repetitive motions at work cause injury. He said the regulations should be abandoned.
Ergonomics policy is the responsibility of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, not the solicitor of the Labor Department.
"He may be contentious, but we expect he will be confirmed," one Bush administration official said.
"I expect they will want to get their pound of flesh out of him and make their point; he won't go through unscathed," the official said.
The official said the House and Senate votes to strike the ergonomics regulation moderates Mr. Scalia's position and leaves Democrats without a platform to oppose the nomination.
"Their main argument is his last name is Scalia, and once that comes to light it isn't much of a battle cry," the official said.
Sen. Paul Wellstone, Minnesota Democrat and committee member, met recently with Mr. Scalia to discuss his record, said spokesman Jim Farrell.
"He does have concerns based on his record, but he certainly deserves a full and fair hearing," Mr. Farrell said.

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