Biden Labor Secretary candidate Su struggles to win over Senate moderates

FILE - Julie Su, of California, speaks during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions for her to be undersecretary of labor, on Capitol Hill, 16 March 2021, in Washington.  President Joe Biden names Julie Su, the current deputy and former California official, as his next Secretary of Labor, replacing the incumbent, former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) XMIT ORG: WX105

FILE – Julie Su, of California, speaks during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions for her to be undersecretary of labor, on Capitol Hill, 16 March 2021, in Washington. President Joe Biden names Julie Su, the current deputy and former California official, as his next Secretary of Labor, replacing the incumbent, former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) XMIT ORG: WX105

WASHINGTON — With the debt crisis averted and summer vacation approaching, the debate over whether to confirm President Joe Biden’s pick for Labor Secretary Julie Su is heating up on Capitol Hill.

Biden appointed Su, the assistant labor secretary, just over three months ago. And she’s led the department since former Labor Secretary Marty Walsh left office in March. Yet his nomination did not come to the Senate for a vote, leaving the post that oversees jobs and employment in limbo.

Moderate Democrats and independent senators are still debating whether to back Su, who was California’s labor secretary when Biden approached her to work with Walsh. She would be the first Asian American to serve as Cabinet Secretary in the Biden administration if confirmed.

“We don’t have enough votes yet, and I don’t know the basis for the heist from some of my colleagues,” Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, said Tuesday night.

State of play in the Senate

  • Attention has turned to Su’s nomination after a vote last week to raise the country’s debt ceiling.

  • Su’s supporters hope the Senate makes his nomination before lawmakers take an extended recess that begins in late July and lasts until September.

  • The Senate previously confirmed Su as deputy labor secretary 50-47 in a party-line vote.

  • But now several moderate Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, many of whom hold seats up for re-election in 2024, are reluctant to vote for Su.

  • Senators on the fence include: Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mark Kelly of Arizona and Jon Tester of Montana. Independent Arizona Sen. Krysten Sinema is also undecided.

  • Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is considered a potential voter, even though she voted against Su in April at the committee level.

GOP senators who voted against Su’s nomination in April argued that she had failed to establish sufficient connections with the business community as California’s labor secretary and took issue with her treatment of independent contractors. They also criticized the amount of fraud in California’s unemployment program during the pandemic.

His nomination was rejected by the committee without a Republican vote and has remained dormant ever since, despite increased support in recent weeks from the White House and labor leaders.

Task forces on Monday sent senators a letter outlining Su’s qualifications and noting that she is the daughter of Chinese immigrants.

“I think she’s demonstrated what it takes to be the next secretary of labor,” American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, one of the signatories to the letter, told USA TODAY.

Su sat down with senators, seeking to win their support.

Flight Attendants’ Association-CWA president Sara Nelson, another union leader who signed the letter, said part of the effort was to “make people feel comfortable” with the Biden administration official.

“There are a lot of people who didn’t know her,” Nelson said.

Senators say they’re still deciding

The efforts had no measurable impact.

  • Manchin told USA TODAY that “no decision” was made on Tuesday.

  • “I’m not going to tell you about it at all,” Sinema said.

  • Kelly said he still had discussions about Su, whom he said he met about a month ago. “I had a good conversation with her,” he said, “but there are still people contacting me about her.”

  • Murkowski dodged questions about how she intends to vote, saying it looks like Su’s nomination has been “stuck for some time.”

Biden still has ‘confidence’ in Su’s nomination

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a press briefing on Monday that Biden has “confidence that she will pass” in the Senate and stressed that Su has the administration’s support. .

“This is full press to get Julie confirmed. Outside groups are continuing to – to push her forward as well. Rock.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden’s nominee for Labor Secretary Julie Su remains in political limbo

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