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Walsh to leave Labor Department for NHL players’ union

During his tenure, agency finalized rules on surprise health care bills and ESG investing

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is expected to leave for the NHL players' union.
Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is expected to leave for the NHL players' union. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will leave the department for the top post at the union representing players in the National Hockey League, the first Cabinet-level departure during the Biden administration.

Walsh, a union construction worker who rose to be mayor of Boston and then Labor secretary, will leave the department after almost two years to take over as executive director of the NHL Players’ Association, according to media reports Tuesday. The Daily Faceoff, which first reported the news, said Walsh was the NHLPA search committee’s top choice and that the 32-member executive board will vote in coming days. It said Walsh is expected to receive unanimous approval.

During Walsh’s tenure, the Labor Department finalized rules related to health care and the management of retirement funds. The department finalized a rule allowing retirement fund managers to consider environmental, social and governance factors when making investment decisions, reversing a rule established during the Trump administration. 

The department also finalized rules related to health insurance, including a final rule implementing surprise billing provisions included in the fiscal 2021 spending omnibus, and is considering a proposal that would make contraception more accessible when employers deny coverage. 

Walsh this month touted the 12.1 million jobs the country added during the first two years of the Biden administration as the U.S. recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. Asked in an interview on Bloomberg TV last week whether he was leaving, Walsh said only that he had no personal news to announce.

The Senate confirmed Walsh 68-29 in 2021. His successor will need a simple majority in the Senate to be confirmed.

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