By Nandita Bose
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden’s pick for Labor Secretary Julie Su will remain acting secretary indefinitely, three sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Su, a former labor activist whose Senate confirmation was put on hold after all Senate Republicans and two Democrats refused to endorse her, will continue in her current role and there is no discussion of having her nomination rescinded, the sources said.
The Biden administration believes there is no time limit on how long Su can serve as acting secretary, as she has already been confirmed by the Senate as assistant secretary of labor, the sources said. She serves under a statute that allows her to serve as secretary until a successor is named, they said.
The Biden administration is without a confirmed labor secretary at a time of an upsurge in labor strikes across the country.
Some union leaders say they are indifferent.
Jimmy Williams Jr., general president of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, who worked with Su and her predecessor Marty Walsh, said not having a confirmed labor secretary at this point “doesn’t really matter.”
“Policies were set in the first two years of this administration, Julie understands them, she was an MP and was part of all of them,” he said. “She can continue to move along the lines that have been set.”
But Republican lawmakers criticized the White House for letting her continue her role in perpetuity. Opponents of his nomination, including Democratic US Senator Joe Manchin, have argued that his “progressive background” prevents him from forging compromises between labor and industry representatives.
White House officials have repeatedly said publicly that the president’s support for Su is “unwavering” and that Biden and his aides will continue to fight for his confirmation.
“She’s already doing the job she was nominated for and she’s doing it well,” one of the sources said. “She can sit during elections if necessary,” the source added.
Su, a civil rights attorney and former California labor commissioner, has served as deputy labor secretary since 2021.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Heather Timmons and Rosalba O’Brien)