Schumer Works to Schedule Vote on Julie Su’s Nomination
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A vote to confirm President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Labor is on the radar for Senate Democrats, but Republicans continue to voice concerns about the candidate’s record on labor policy.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters June 7 he intends to pursue a path forward to get the nomination of Julie Su onto the chamber’s agenda. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in April advanced Su’s nomination by an 11-10 party-line vote to the Senate floor, which is managed by Schumer.
“We are working very, very hard to get Julie Su confirmed,” the senior senator from New York said during a press conference on Capitol Hill.
During a House committee hearing on June 7, top Republicans continued to take aim at Su’s record, as well as the White House’s fiscal 2024 budget request for the Labor Department.
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) criticized Su’s tenure with the Biden administration. As she put it, “The Biden administration has amassed a troubling record of Big Labor bias at the expense of American workers. This culture of union favoritism undermines workers’ rights.”
Foxx continued, “Washington should not be in the business of picking winners and losers in our economy, but that’s exactly what the Biden administration is doing, whether it be through attempting to overturn every right-to-work law in the country, eliminating independent contracting, jeopardizing franchise businesses, or rewarding union bosses with unchecked power by acquiescing to every item on their wish list.”
At the hearing, Su — currently serving as the department’s acting secretary — defended the White House’s fiscal 2024 budget request for the department, arguing its proposals seek to promote workforce efficiency and safety. If approved by Congress, the budget, she explained, would “hire additional workplace inspectors and investigators who help ensure your constituents — from the garment workers stitching clothes to the retail workers helping customers buy them, from the warehouse workers packing orders to the truck drivers delivering them to our homes, from the farmworkers and meatpackers producing our food to the grocery store clerks ringing us up, and so many others — are paid fairly, go home safe and healthy at the end of the day, and are able to thrive in their local communities.”
Ahead of a potential Senate floor vote, freight stakeholders have ramped up their opposition for the nominee. American Trucking Associations, for instance, continues to raise concerns about Su’s record, specifically citing her role in a California law known as AB 5. The recent law set conditions for employers to classify workers as independent contractors.
“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,” wrote ATA President Chris Spear to Schumer and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on June 2. “Her responses to questions posed during committee consideration of her nomination and a lack of outreach to the business community she would be charged with regulating have failed to reassure the trucking industry on how she would approach such an existential issue if confirmed to lead the Department of Labor.”
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The White House is standing by the nominee. Explaining his nomination of Su, Biden said, “Julie is a champion for workers, and she has been a critical partner to Secretary Walsh since the early days of my administration. She helped avert a national rail shutdown, improved access to good jobs free from discrimination through my Good Jobs Initiative, and is ensuring that the jobs we create in critical sectors like semiconductor manufacturing, broadband and health care are good-paying, stable and accessible jobs for all.”