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Manchin opposition imperils Su’s chances of Labor confirmation

Manchin voted for Su's confirmation as deputy secretary in 2021

Julie Su, acting Labor secretary, testifies during a House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing on June 7.
Julie Su, acting Labor secretary, testifies during a House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing on June 7. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Joe Manchin III said Thursday he would oppose Julie Su’s nomination to be Labor secretary, weakening her chances of confirmation.

Amid opposition from Republicans and without the Manchin’s vote, Su must shore up the support of the remaining 50 Democrats and independents who caucus with them, including Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., who have not said how they will vote.

“I believe the person leading the U.S. Department of Labor should have the experience to collaboratively lead both labor and industry to forge compromises acceptable to both parties,” Manchin said in a statement. “While her credentials and qualifications are impressive, I have genuine concerns that Julie Su’s more progressive background prevents her from doing this and for that reason I cannot support her nomination to serve as Secretary of Labor.”

Manchin, D-W.Va., along with Tester and Sinema, voted to confirm Su as deputy secretary of Labor in 2021. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in April voted 11-10 along party lines to advance her nomination.

Before arriving at the Labor Department, Su was California’s secretary of labor. Senate Republicans and business groups criticized her tenure there for supporting a state law making it more difficult for employers to classify workers as independent contractors and blamed her for the state’s unemployment insurance fraud during the pandemic.

Su’s nomination has been the subject of lobbying by outside groups, according to first quarter disclosures. At least 23 companies and interest groups lobbied on the nomination, including 10 that publicly oppose Su and nine that support her.

Groups opposing Su —including the National Restaurant Association, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the Flex Association, a group that represents ride-share companies — reported spending at least $3.4 million on lobbying in the first quarter of this year on the nomination and other policy issues.

Unions and civil rights groups have come to Su’s defense, disclosing about $2.1 million on first-quarter lobbying spending. Supporters include the Service Employees International Union, American Federation of Government Employees, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the Society for Human Resource Management.

This is at least the second time Manchin has come out against one of President Joe Biden’s Labor Department nominations. He opposed the confirmation of David Weil to be head of the department’s wage and hour division. Manchin, Sinema and Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., voted against cloture on Weil’s confirmation last year, effectively putting an end to his nomination.

Manchin has been a key swing vote in the Senate with a track record of derailing Biden’s nominees, including to fill positions on the Federal Reserve, Federal Communications Commission and the Office of Management and Budget.

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