33 GOP Senators Urge Biden to Withdraw Stalled Nominee for Labor Secretary

In a letter sent to President Joe Biden on Wednesday, 33 Republican Senators urged him to withdraw Julie Su’s nomination for Labor Secretary. Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) has voiced his frustration that Su’s nomination has not yet been brought up for a full vote, asking, “Are we ever gonna vote on her?” earlier in June.

Su was cleared by the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP) in April on a party-line vote. The letter still states that Su “refused” to be interviewed by the HELP Committee minority or Republican senators’ staff.

Kevin Kiley, a Republican from California, called Su’s testimony before Congress “evasive and non-responsive at times, as well as outright dishonest,” last week. He also asked Biden to withdraw his nomination.

Two-thirds, including Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader of the Senate GOP Conference (R.Ky.), drafted a letter, spearheaded by Senator Mike Braun, R. Indiana. Demanding that President Biden withdraw Su’s nomination. Senators have written:

We respectfully ask that you withdraw the nomination in light of this current situation. Please confirm that Julie A. Su’s nomination has been formally withdrawn.

The letter points out that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DNY) has been avoiding a vote on the floor of the Senate in the months following the approval of Su’s nomination by the committee.

The full Senate has not yet voted on the nomination of Su, despite it being reported positively by the committee in a party-line vote on April 26th, 2023. This is despite the Senate having been in session for many weeks since that date. The nomination of Ms. Su continues to be questioned due to the fact that she has not been willing to clarify her past positions or what actions she will take as Secretary of Labor.

Emilie Simons, a spokesperson for the White House, defended Su’s nomination on Wednesday.

Julie Su has a strong background to become Labor Secretary. She helped negotiate a labor deal at ports on the West Coast, was unanimously approved as Deputy Secretary by all Senate Democrats, and enjoys the support of business and labor organizations across the spectrum.

That’s not entirely true. More than 30 business groups signed a March letter opposing Su’s nomination. These included the National Retail Federation and National Restaurant Association. The signatories sent a letter to the members of HELP:

Confirming an incumbent labor secretary who has a history of blocking the solution to the current shortage of workers would have a negative impact on every American and every business, especially small businesses.

Business groups and associations also cited Su’s role in California’s AB 5 law, which destroyed independent contractors and freelancers across the state. The letter continues as follows:

As the chief labor officer of California, Ms. Su played a key role in the formulation and implementation of A.B. The California Labor Code, A.B. 5, codified language which effectively prohibited such arrangements. Millions were left unsure if they could continue working as self-employed people or if they would need to find other jobs. Over 200 industries and occupations sought and secured exemptions from this law, which led to controversy and chaos. Despite the exemptions, the law was so unpopular, that California voters rejected it overwhelmingly by passing Proposition 22.

Other opposition coalitions have highlighted Su’s oversight, which resulted in pandemic payments of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. Stand Against Su wrote:

California experienced the largest fraud in the history of the state under Su’s leadership as Secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency. Su’s Employment Development Department in California (EDD), which was overseen by Su and failed to respond to tens of thousands of unemployment claims related to the pandemic, a system-wide fraud rampant audit revealed. Californians struggled to buy groceries and gas, but criminals, such as death row inmates, received payments worth millions of dollars from the state.

Nearly $40 billion in fraudulent unemployment benefits was taken from the taxpayers. Su’s failed leadership, which led to the unprecedented failure, was named by the state audit.

Su’s nomination has been a source of controversy for Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. It is likely that one more Democratic defector could bring her down in her bid to be the DOL’s leader. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) Sinema, meanwhile, has been the target of lobbying from both sides in the Su nomination debate. She often collaborates with Jim Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma who was one of the signatories to the letter calling for Su’s withdrawal.

The Republican Senators have called for immediate action. They wrote, “We are grateful for your response to this request and ask that you confirm as soon as possible that Julie A. Su’s nomination is officially withdrawn.”