House Leaders Seek to Limit Acting Secretary Julie Su’s Term

Republicans Object to Labor Nominee's Record
Julie Su
Julie Su speaks during a confirmation hearing. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

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Legislation aimed at preventing an acting head of the Department of Labor from remaining in the job indefinitely was recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Republican Reps. Virginia Foxx and Kevin Kiley unveiled the Department of Labor Succession Act as a way of ensuring the tenure of an acting Secretary of Labor adheres to certain federal guidelines. The bill is targeted at Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su.

“Su’s pathway to confirmation has stalled. For the sake of job creators and working Americans, [Joe] Biden must pull Su,” said Foxx of North Carolina on July 27, who also pressed for a Government Accountability Office review of Su’s acting appointment. Foxx is chairwoman of the Education and the Workforce Committee. “Instead, he has stretched the law to bypass a Senate confirmation process. Par for the course for a president accustomed to flouting the law to get his way. I am pleased to support Rep. Kiley’s bill to clarify federal law, putting an end to this administration’s efforts to skirt the law at the expense of workers and job creators,” the chairwoman continued.

The legislation responds to the Biden White House’s role in approving Su’s supervision of the department in an acting capacity. As Su awaits a confirmation vote in the Senate, the White House has kept the nominee overseeing the Labor Department via an arcane federal law specific to the department. The department’s succession policy allows for Su’s acting role based on her Senate confirmation as deputy secretary. Outside of this statute, such nominees fall under guidelines limiting their acting role to a certain timeline.

Virginia Foxx, Kevin Kiley

Reps. Virginia Foxx and Kevin Kiley unveiled the Department of Labor Succession Act.

“Having made the worst possible pick for labor secretary, which the Senate is rightly rejecting, the president is trying to install his nominee anyways,” added Kiley of California. He is chairman of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee.

“Su faces bipartisan congressional opposition over losing $32.6 billion in taxpayer funds to fraud and for championing policies that destroyed the livelihoods of tens of thousands of independent workers,” he argued. “Our legislation will prevent Su from indefinitely serving in defiance of Congress and taking her record of failure in California nationwide.”

Su was nominated in February and a Senate committee approved her nomination in April. Notwithstanding the support from Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Democratic-led Senate has yet to schedule a floor vote on her nomination.

Su’s ascension to secretary officially stalled with the announcement of Sen. Joe Manchin’s opposition. The Democrat from West Virginia joined a cadre of Senate Republicans in opposing Su. “I believe the person leading the U.S. Department of Labor should have the experience to collaboratively lead both labor and industry to forge compromises acceptable to both parties,” Manchin said July 13. His opposition followed nearly three dozen Republican senators who called on Biden to withdraw Su’s nomination.

“Her track record and unwillingness to provide clarity to her past positions and the actions she would take as secretary of labor continue to raise concerns about her nomination,” the senators wrote the president on June 20.

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Business and freight stakeholders are among groups opposing the nominee. American Trucking Associations has raised concerns regarding Su’s record specific to a California law, known as AB 5, that sets conditions for employers to reclassify independent contractors as employees.

ATA President Chris Spear shared the group’s concerns with Schumer and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): “As we highlighted in a March letter to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, we have grave concerns over Ms. Su’s role in implementing California’s disastrous [AB 5], which essentially outlawed this business model for trucking.”