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Calls Grow Louder for Biden to Boot Labor Nominee

Regulatory Agencies

The path to Senate confirmation for President Biden’s current nominee to lead the Department of Labor appears to be getting narrower.

The latest salvo comes from House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-MO), House Education and the Workforce Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Republican members of the California delegation who have called on President Biden to withdraw the nomination of Julie Su as Labor Secretary.

“Because of her misguided record in California, we have major concerns about potential disastrous ramifications at the federal level if Ms. Su becomes Secretary. For these reasons, we request that you withdraw her nomination to serve as your next Secretary of Labor,” the Republican members wrote in an April 6 letter to Biden.

As part of their reasoning, the members cite various “operational failures” that occurred during her tenure as California’s Secretary of Labor. “Ms. Su’s record as Secretary of California’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) includes failing to prevent fraud in the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) system, resulting in billions of misspent taxpayer dollars, and promoting radical policies such as California Assembly Bill 5 (AB-5) that imposes a rigid worker classification test which restricts Americans’ right to work as independent contractors and weakens supply chains.”

They go on to emphasize that “similar actions at the federal level would be a disaster for workers and our economy,” further noting that they will closely monitor her tenure as Acting Secretary of Labor and will strongly oppose her confirmation by the Senate.

Mind you, Su is subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate, and of course, the House Republican lawmakers are unable to vote in the Senate, but considering that a good portion of the overall California delegation signed on to the letter does not seem to bode well for her prospects.

Su, however, does have broad support among the labor unions, but several business groups have also come out in opposition to her nomination, including the National Restaurant Association most recently.

Ironically, Su was confirmed in July 2021 by the U.S. Senate to be Deputy Labor Secretary and presumably (depending on how the Vacancies Act is interpreted) could continue serving as Acting Secretary of Labor for the remainder of President Biden’s first term.  

An earlier report by Bloomberg had noted that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee plans to hold an April 20th hearing on Su’s nomination, but that date has not been publicly announced. Meanwhile, several moderate Senate Democrats who are up for reelection have not yet signaled how they will vote on her nomination.

President Biden in February announced his intent to nominate Su, following the announcement that former Labor Secretary Marty Walsh was stepping down to take a position with the NHL Players Association.

A copy of the letter can be found here.