Senate Labor Committee approves Su on party-line vote, but final confirmation uncertain
Julie Su speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions confirmation hearing for her to be the Labor Secretary, April 20, 2023, in Washington. | Alex Brandon / AP

WASHINGTON (PAI)—By an 11-10 party-line vote, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee approved Democratic President Joe Biden’s nomination of Julie Su to be the next Secretary of Labor.

Speechifying by the Republican minority, who accused Su, now the Acting Secretary, of being anti-business, too pro-union, a bad administrator, and an inexperienced negotiator, consumed most of the 10-minute session on Wednesday, April 26.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., the panel’s top Republican, charged Su waltzed around answers in her confirmation hearing and wouldn’t provide follow-up. He repeated his criticisms of $31 billion in alleged jobless benefits “fraud” in California, where Su was Labor Commissioner, during the coronavirus pandemic.

Su had replied she stopped the fraud as soon as she learned about it, and that 95% was in a special federal benefits program designed, with no guardrails, to shovel out benefits to workers—gig economy workers, musicians, and others—whom unemployment insurance doesn’t cover.

Organized labor is campaigning hard for Su, and panel chair Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., mentioned that. Su, he previously said, is willing and able to fight against corporate greed and for workers’ rights. And Sen. Bob Casey, R-Pa., again reminded the Republicans of the pro-worker and pro-retiree mission of DOL. “It isn’t the Department of employees and employers,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the Republican opposition we’re hearing is not based on anything substantive,” Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., added.

Su’s nomination now heads to the Senate floor, where the outcome is uncertain. The 48 Democrats and three independents combine for a 51-49 edge over the GOP. But two senators who sabotaged Biden’s domestic agenda in the evenly split Senate in the last Congress—by siding with its then 50 Republicans—Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, Ind-Ariz., have yet to say how they’ll vote.

Corporate special interests are already plowing millions of dollars into anti-Su ads in West Virginia and Arizona. And Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is ill.

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Press Associates
Press Associates

Press Associates Inc. (PAI), is a union news service in Washington D.C. Mark Gruenberg is the editor.