The Biden administration desperately tries to get enough votes to confirm Julie Su as Secretary of Labor. Marty Walsh left his position as labor secretary early this year in order to become the head of the National Hockey League Player Association.
Su was confirmed as deputy labor secretary in 2021, but her move to the top spot in the Labor Department has been stymied by revelations about California’s massive fraud and waste in the state’s unemployment insurance program. At least $30 billion was handed out to fraudsters, including hundreds of inmates in California prisons.
Biden would have another box ticked. Su would be the first Asian American or Pacific Islander (AAPI), he had chosen to lead a major department.
California prisoners stole billions of dollars in unemployment benefits while being supposedly watched by prison guards. Biden wants to include the architect of this system in his cabinet.
A number of Democrats have expressed concerns. West Virginia senator Joe Manchin has said he will not support Su. Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema has yet to say whether she supports Biden’s pick.
A White House official stated, “We hope” that Senator Manchin and Sen. Sinema “reconsider their position”.
Minutes after Manchin announced that he would not support Su’s nomination, the official made his comments. The West Virginia Democrat praised Su’s credentials but said he decided to vote against Su because of a “genuine” concern about her ideology.
Sinema is not publicly declared, but the comments of the official suggest that Arizona Independent may have expressed reservations to the White House about the nominee. Sinema doesn’t usually predict her vote. A spokesperson declined to comment.
Su can still be confirmed if she loses only one member of the Democratic caucus. Her nomination is not expected to be supported by any Republicans.
Su’s nomination is a stalled issue since February. Since then, Su has been acting as labor secretary. However, several important issues that face the Labor Department have been held up by Biden’s unwillingness to address them without a confirmed secretary.
Su has been criticized for her work as the former head of California’s unemployment insurance program. She also received criticism for her positions on controversial issues like independent contractors and franchises. Su has met a few of the holdouts over the past weeks, but she has not publicly won them over.
What the administration will do if Su is not confirmed, it’s unclear. There are no obvious choices for a backup, even though there were many names that surfaced when the NHLPA announced that Walsh would be interested in the job. Su is allowed to continue as acting secretary indefinitely, but business groups have warned that they will challenge any actions she approves without Senate confirmation.
The Biden administration is trying to change the gig economy and destroy the franchise model, mainly because of his labor supporters who see themselves as being blocked from unionizing. Julie Su is the perfect candidate to accomplish this, given her achievements in California.