Julie Su’s struggle to be confirmed the next Secretary of Labor got a bit of help this week, though it is unclear if it will do any good as she tries desperately to keep key Democrats from abandoning her quest.
The National Education Association, one of the largest unions in the nation, began placing ads in states with senators who have yet to commit to voting for Su if – and when – her nomination comes before the full Senate.
Ads like these are running in Alaska (Murkowski, R), Arizona (Kelly, D, and Sinema I-ish), West Virginia (Manchin, D). None – along with Angus King (I) of Maine and John Tester (D) of Montana – have said for sure they will vote Su for sure.
The NEA came out in favor of Su even before she was nominated, and unusual thing to do for the union, a union that – like its counterpart the AFT led by the egregious Randi Weingarten – pushed strongly to keep schools closed across the country during the pandemic.
The latest NEA statement asks that the Senate schedule a vote on Su for next week. That is extremely unlikely as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will almost certainly not call for such a vote until he is certain she will prevail. Numerous other groups have come out vehemently in objection to Su’s nomination, some beating the NEA to the punch with on-the-ground ad efforts.
Interestingly, her current position as “acting” secretary may be able to continue indefinitely, unlike other cases of “acting” appointments. The Trump administration made numerous such appointments – typically limited to only one year – as he was unable to get a number of nominees through the Senate approval for more permanent gigs.
But since Su is already the deputy secretary and became “acting” secretary automatically upon the departure of former Secretary Marty Walsh who left to run the NHL players union, she can stay in that job until someone – anyone, even her – gets through the Senate.
A second note of support came from Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka who published an op-ed in The Hill yesterday. Seroka says Su has helped the Port during on-going labor negotiations and also assisted during her time as California’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency chief.
As an un-elected official appointed by the LA city council and its harbor commission, the op-ed is rather questionable in its propriety as it is clearly a political stance be taken by, again, an un-elected staffer.
Port media staff did not respond to requests for comment when asked whether it is ethically dubious for Seroka to engage in politics (it’s typically not allowed for appointed staff at every level of government) and/or if he was speaking on behalf of the city council and harbor commission.
While California’s labor secretary (and previously as labor commissioner), Su championed limits on freelance/gig workers, barred immigration agents from state property, and presided over the disastrous EDD pandemic response which involved losing $40 billion to fraudsters while simultaneously failing to properly pay legitimate unemployment claims to millions of Californians.
Su needs 50 votes in the Senate to be confirmed (if it is a tie, Vice President Kamala Harris would break the tie in her favor) as Biden’s newest and only Asian (for some reason that seems important to him) member of the cabinet. If she loses Manchin, who appears to be leaning no currently, she cannot lose any other Senate Democrats, meaning Kelly, Tester, and erstwhile Democrats Sinema and King.
It appears so far that every Republican (even Murkowski, though that’s always a bit wiggly) will vote no on the nomination.
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