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33 senators ask Biden to pull Julie Su’s nomination for DOL head

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Dive Brief

  • Spearheaded by Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.), 33 senators signed an open letter to President Joe Biden Tuesday asking him to revoke Julie Su’s DOL secretary nomination.
  • The Republican senators cited their perception of Su as “[unwilling] to provide clarity on past policies” — including worker classification — as the reason for their concern.
  • The letter is the latest installment in a partisan tug-of-war over Su’s confirmation. Biden announced his nomination of Deputy Secretary Su to the labor secretary seat — following the departure of former Secretary Marty Walsh — at the top of the year. 

Dive Insight

In announcing her nomination, the White House said Su’s crackdown on wage theft and human trafficking, skill at union negotiation and care for workplace safety standards were reasons why she should secure the nomination. Su was also a civil rights attorney for nearly two decades.

Despite her experience as labor head for the state of California and two years of DOL time, Senate GOP leaders continue to frame Su as unqualified. 

During a U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions meeting in April, Ranking Member Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., compared Su to Walsh saying that the latter had “unquestionable” experience.

Walsh “worked to develop trust between labor unions and the business community. But the nominee we’re considering today is not in that mold,” Cassidy added. 

Additionally, at a different April 2023 HELP Committee meeting, Republican senators took time in April to criticize Su for her pro-union stance. Notably, Walsh parted ways to head the National Hockey League player’s union.

The vote to confirm Su has languished in committee. Efforts for or against Deputy Secretary Su have been split down party lines. Meanwhile, the stances of three voters remain a mystery: Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz.; and Jon Tester, D-Mont. 

With a loud opposition from the right, a slim party majority on the left, and a few key senators on the fence, the future of the DOL hangs in the balance.

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