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Julie Su’s nomination to lead DOL clears Senate committee

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Washington — The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has approved Julie Su’s nomination for labor secretary, in an 11-10 party-line vote.

Su’s nomination now goes before the full Senate, where it’s unclear whether she has the votes for a confirmation. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jon Tester (D-MT) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) are among those who haven’t indicated if they’ll vote in favor of Su, who has been serving as acting labor secretary since Marty Walsh stepped down in March.

Unlike Walsh, it appears Su won’t get any Republican support, a point Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), ranking member of the committee, highlighted before the April 26 vote.

“Walsh received Republican support for his nomination because he had unquestionable experience running organizations and handling negotiations,” Cassidy said during his opening statement. “He had worked to develop trust between labor unions and the business community. The nominee we’re considering today is not in that mold.”

As he did during Su’s confirmation hearing on April 20, Cassidy sought to paint her as a partisan activist. He pointed to Su’s lack of experience in handling labor disputes and her record as California’s labor secretary, including A.B. 5 – a California law enacted after a state Supreme Court decision changed the classification of independent contractors. Legislators in the state later passed A.B. 2257 to provide exemptions to the law, and 59% of California voters approved an exemption for ride-share drivers.

Further, Cassidy contended that Su didn’t respond to questions or requests for documents.

“Some of the so-called answers we did receive were simply copied and pasted sections of DOL press releases that only indirectly referenced the questions presented. It seems unlikely that she’ll be more transparent after the confirmation process concludes.”

Su has received support from a number of unions, including the AFL-CIO. HELP Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said Su would be a secretary who would fight for working families.

“I think Julie Su, currently and in her role in California and throughout her life, has made it clear that she’s prepared to stand up for working families,” Sanders said.

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