WASHINGTON — All four Republican senators from Nebraska and Iowa backed Alexander Acosta’s nomination to run the Labor Department.
Two years later, prominent Democrats are calling for Acosta to resign — or for President Donald Trump to fire him — over his handling of the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking case. Acosta was a prosecutor in the case in Miami more than a decade ago.
None of the four Midlands senators has joined the calls for Acosta’s head, however.
Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has spoken out repeatedly about the case, denouncing Epstein as a “child rapist” and criticizing the “pathetically soft sentence” that he received.
Sasse pushed to have the criminal case reopened and pressed the Justice Department to investigate how the original prosecution was handled. But Sasse says he’s waiting for the results of that probe before addressing specific government officials involved.
Sign up for The World-Herald's afternoon updates
Receive a summary of the day’s popular and trending stories from Omaha.com.
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, also a member of the Judiciary Committee, took a similar approach when asked if Acosta should stay or go.
Iowa’s Joni Ernst said that Acosta serves the president and that she’ll see what kind of pressure Trump puts on the secretary.
The Hill reported that Deb Fischer of Nebraska responded to reporters this way when asked whether Acosta should resign:
“I don’t know. Why do you people ask this stuff? Don’t you realize that we’re working on tough legislation?”
In an interview with The World-Herald later, Fischer specifically cited lawmakers’ ongoing efforts to address national security issues, trade agreements and ethanol policy.
And she said her Acosta comments reflect the feelings of most Nebraskans, who are focused on other matters. “I was back in the state all week. I didn’t hear anything on it. People want to know what we’re doing.”
Meet the Nebraska state senators
Here are the 49 state senators of Nebraska's 106th Legislature. You can click here to find your state senator.