House Republicans Tell Julie Su to Step Down

At Hearing, Acting Labor Secretary Called ‘Illegitimate’
Julie Su
“I will say that the laws of this country protect working people when they should be called employees and are misclassified as independent contractors,” acting Labor Secretary Julie Su says. (Samuel Corum/Bloomberg News)

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A group of House Republicans claimed acting Labor Secretary Julie Su is “illegitimate” as leader of the Department of Labor.

During a May 1 hearing of the Education and the Workforce Committee, a cadre of lawmakers questioned Su’s capacity to serve in her role and criticized department rules specific to the status of independent contractors.

“Today marks the 417th consecutive day in which you have led the Department of Labor as acting secretary without the constitutionally required advice and consent of the Senate. In effectively abrogating the Senate nomination process, the Biden administration has treated the constitution as but a footnote. That is unacceptable,” said committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.). “In fact, Ms. Su, you are now the longest serving acting secretary since before the U.S. Civil War — a record that was best left unbroken.”

Rep. Eric Burlison (R-Mo.) called Su “illegitimate” for lacking confirmation by the Senate to serve as secretary. “You’re to serve but only with the consent of the Senate,” Burlison told Su. “I think that you continuing to serve is, if anything, a disrespect for the constitution and a disrespect for the Senate.”

Eric Burlison


Rep. Aaron Bean (R-Fla.), chairman of the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee said: “You’re acting secretary. You’re no longer the deputy. You’re the person. You’re the person in charge, and our constitution says you’re to be confirmed. You’re not confirmed.”

Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-Calif.), chairman of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee added: “It’s time for you to step down. Let’s do the right thing. It’s time for you to resign, and we’ll get a new secretary who can go through the process and be confirmed by the Senate. That’s what the American people deserve. That’s what American workers deserve.”

Kiley is among the congressional Republicans seeking to advance a measure to prevent a Labor Department acting head from serving in that role indefinitely. The Department of Labor Succession Act is targeted at Su.

Nominated to the secretary role by President Joe Biden, Su was confirmed in 2021 as deputy secretary. While she awaits a vote in the Senate, the White House has the nominee leading the department after then-Secretary Marty Walsh’s departure in 2023. Department succession policy permits Su’s acting capacity based on her deputy secretary confirmation. A Government Accountability Office review determined Su “is lawfully serving as the acting secretary.”

Amid growing pressure for her to step down, Su expressed a commitment to continue serving at the department. She told the panel: “I came to the administration as the deputy secretary of Labor. I was confirmed for that job in 2021. When my predecessor left, I became the acting secretary through the regular statutes that govern succession.”

At the hearing, Kiley also pressed the acting secretary about the Biden administration’s relatively recent rule that reclassifies certain independent contractors as company employees. Congressional Republicans are actively pursuing to pause the rule, citing a potential impact on the freight sector.

Explained Kiley: “This particular profession — truck drivers, independent owner-operators — hundreds of thousands of them … are vital to our supply chain.”

Su told the California congressman the administration seeks to create a fair workplace.

“I will say that the laws of this country protect working people when they should be called employees and are misclassified as independent contractors,” the acting secretary said.

Chris Spear


American Trucking Associations is among stakeholders pushing back on the rule.

“More than 350,000 truckers — including many women — choose to work as independent contractors because of the economic opportunity it creates and the flexibility it provides, enabling them to run their own business and select their own hours and routes,” ATA President Chris Spear said May 2. “Julie Su completely disregarded these drivers when she rolled out the Biden administration’s destructive independent contractor rule.”

Earlier this year, a Senate committee approved Su’s nomination. A vote in the Democratic-led chamber has yet to be scheduled.

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