After a hearing on Thursday, in which she upset a Republican senator of importance, the confirmation of Julie Su as the new head of Labor is still in doubt.
Joe Biden, the President of the United States, nominated Su to be his successor in February. Former Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh had resigned from her position after he resigned as president of National Hockey League Players’ Association. Su’s current position was confirmed along party lines by 2021 after she served as California labor secretary between 2019 and 2021.
Labor unions and business groups have backed her nomination with a fervent support. Democrats can’t afford to lose votes while California Senator Dianne Feinstein is away from the Capitol for an indefinite period of time due to shingles.
During the hearing of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Republican Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski questioned Su about the Labor Department’s implementation of a CARES Act Program that gave money to states in order to improve their unemployment insurance program. Murkowski said that modernization funds that were supposed to go to Alaska instead went to “Tiger Team Projects” at the Department.
“We don’t exactly know what it is, but we know that Alaska, which desperately needs these updates and modernizations, did not receive the funding.” Murkowski asked, “So the question is to you why DOL didn’t use the funding and whether or not this has to become a priority for US?”
Su confessed, “I don’t have the answer to Alaska.” “I’ll tell you one thing that I have been working on for the past two years: making sure that the American Rescue Plan, which is about $2 billion in total, that was intended for states goes out to the states.”
Murkowski stated that, after the hearing, she “factored in” Su’s answer. Murkowski voted against the confirmation of Su as deputy Labor Secretary, but voted in favor of several other key Biden cabinet nominees.
“She didn’t have a good answer for me. I’m trying to figure out how much money came from CARES for my state which was in dire need of modernization. She said she would get back to me with the information. Murkowski told The Daily Caller that such things are important.
Su was questioned by other Republicans about the $31 billion fraudulent claims that California’s Department of Labor had paid out in Paycheck Protection Program funds. Su acknowledged that California did not have “sufficient security measures” in place to stop this level of fraud. NBC News reported on March 20, 2022, that fraudsters had stolen as much as $80 Billion in Paycheck Protection Program money across the country.
“$31 billion. This is about the same amount of military aid we gave to Ukraine. This is almost twice as much as the budget of the Department of Labor. Mitt Romney, a Republican senator from Utah, said that under your leadership, California had fraudulently paid $31 billion. There’s an enterprise principle called the Peter Principle that says people are promoted until their competency is no longer established. Your record is so poor that I can’t imagine why the president would nominate you for this position.
Su is opposed by business groups and independent contractors, who point out her support and implementation of AB5, a Californian law that aims to classify contractors as employees. Contractors must meet a three-pronged standard to avoid being classified as employees. The law increased the rate of union membership in the state and dramatically increased costs for small businesses.
The Caller reported that Bill Cassidy, Louisiana’s HELP Committee Ranking Member and member of the HELP Committee, is preparing for another party line vote.
The GOP senator stated, “I believe we raised enough doubts that hopefully would create doubts among some of the [Democrats] more fair-minded.”
Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has opposed Biden’s nominees more than any other Democrat has not said whether he would support Su. He had previously voted for her confirmation as deputy secretary.
When asked by the Washington Post about Su, he replied “No comment” on Thursday.