Biden’s Labor nominee Julie Su advances out of committee in party-line vote

Lawmakers on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on Wednesday voted to advance Deputy Secretary of Labor Julie Su’s nomination to lead the Labor Department, replacing former Secretary Marty Walsh.  The committee voted 11-10 along party lines in favor of Su’s nomination, with Democrats in support of President Biden’s nominee and Republicans opposed.  “Working families have been struggling for the last many decades while we have massive income and wealth inequality. The working families of this country, in the Labor Department, are entitled to have a secretary who is going to stand up and fight for them,” Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said before the vote. He applauded Su for her support for increasing the federal minimum wage, implementing paid family and medical leave, labor unions and more.  “I think Julie Su, currently, in her role in California and throughout her life has made it clear she’s prepared to stand up for working families,” Sanders added. BIDEN TO NOMINATE JULIE SU AS NEXT LABOR SECRETARY Ranking member Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., gave a statement opposing Su’s nomination, criticizing her “decades-long record of partisan activism, promoting policies that undermine workers to the benefit of politically-connected labor unions.”  Su’s nomination now heads to the floor of the U.S. Senate, where a handful of Biden’s other high-profile nominees have been stuck in limbo amid intense opposition from Republicans, moderate Democrats and independents. Phil Washington, Biden’s nominee to lead the Federal Aviation Administration, recently withdrew his nomination when it became clear that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., would not support him in committee. And Gigi Sohn’s nomination to lead the Federal Communications Commission was sunk after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., came out in opposition to her.  Hoping to avoid a similar fate, the White House has called Su a “tested and experienced leader.” She is backed by labor groups, as well as groups representing Asian & Pacific Islander Americans.  BIDEN’S ‘NIGHTMARE’ LABOR NOMINEE UNDER FIRE FROM SMALL BUSINESSES, CONTRACT WORKERS But Su has faced Republican criticism for a massive unemployment insurance scandal that took place while she was serving as secretary of labor for California. The state’s Employment Development Department, which handles unemployment benefits, reportedly paid between $20 billion to $32 billion to fraudsters. California Republicans, led by Rep. Kevin Kiley, R-Calif., sent a letter to Biden in February urging against her nomination, accusing her of overseeing “one of the largest cases of unemployment insurance fraud” during the pandemic and of implementing one of the “most destructive labor policies in decades.”  Su argued during her 2021 confirmation hearings that the fraud was part of a criminal conspiracy that went well beyond California. She had previously admitted in a press conference that the state had “not had sufficient security measures in place” to prevent the fraud. Su has also blamed the Trump administration for the fraud and backlog of unemployment claims, claiming the former president’s team had not given adequate guidance to fight back against the fraud. CALIFORNIA REPUBLICANS URGE BIDEN NOT TO NOMINATE JULIE SU AS LABOR SECRETARY: ‘INCOMPETENCE’ Small business groups have also opposed Su’s nomination, citing her support for California’s AB5, which classified some gig workers as employees. The bill was designed to regulate companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash, which rely on independent contractors. Voters overrode AB5 in a ballot measure that passed in 2020.  CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP With Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., still absent due to health reasons, Democrats need unified support from their conference to confirm Su to lead the Labor Department. Manchin and other swing votes from red or purple states including Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Sinema are the lawmakers to watch.  Fox News’ Jessica Chasmar, Elizabeth Elkind, Timothy Nerozzi, Brie Stimson and Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.
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