Julie Su’s rough road to becoming the next Secretary of Labor just got even rougher – and narrower.
West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin jumped off the Su fence and landed squarely on the “No” side Thursday afternoon, announcing he cannot support her nomination
“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. “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.”
The loss of Manchin means Su – formerly in charge of California’s labor department and widely reviled for her advocacy of the anti-freelance AB5 law and her gross negligence in overseeing the EDD, which lost $40 billion to fraud during the pandemic – cannot lose another Democrat. At least three other are on the same fence Manchin just left and losing one would sink Su.
It is also possible the Biden White House signaled they may already know one of them may already getting ready to vote “No” as well.
According to Politico, a Biden official on Thursday said the president would continue to fight for Su’s confirmation, calling his support for her “unwavering.
But the same official added, “We hope Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema reconsider their position.”
Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema has not actually yet said how she will vote and tends not to release that information prior to actually voting. If the Biden official is to be believed, Su’s nomination could already be toast.
Su – currently the acting secretary – has faced withering criticism since her nomination in February.
At this point, it is almost certain that each of the Senate’s 49 Republicans will vote against Su. If no other Democrat backslides, the vote would be 50-50 and Vice President Kamala Harris would break the tie in her favor.
Besides Sinema, at least Montana Sen. Tester and Mark Kelly, Arizona’s other senator, remain officially undeclared. Tester, like Sinema, faces a tough re-election fights in their “red to purple” states next fall.
Those opposed to Su were overjoyed by the Manchin news.
“Put simply, Julie Su does not have the competency, skills, or experience necessary for a successful Secretary of Labor, as demonstrated by her record-breaking track record of failure,” said a spokeswoman for Stand Against Su, a business coalition that was formed to fight the nomination. “At every opportunity, Su has shown herself to be unfit for the role and a serious threat to workers, freelancers, and business owners across the nation. We commend Senator Manchin for defending American workers by opposing her nomination and encourage Senators on both sides of the aisle to do the same.”
Tom Manzo, president of the California Business and Industrial Alliance, praised Manchin for bucking his own political party.
“I have a lot of respect for Senator Manchin and give hm credit for going outside party lines and standing up for what is right,” Manzo said.
Su arch-nemesis, Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin), said the news is an important step to make sure the mistakes Su made in California are not made at the federal level.
“From allowing a staggering $32.6 billion in unemployment insurance fraud to occur on her watch and aggressively enforcing AB 5 to destroy as many California livelihoods as possible, to refusing to answer the most basic questions during a congressional oversight hearing, Julie Su has repeatedly disqualified herself from leading the U.S. Labor Department,” Kiley said. “The fact that she now faces bipartisan congressional opposition to her nomination is a reflection of her record of failure.”
It is now up to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Biden to decide if and when to either pull her nomination or bring it to the senate floor for a final vote.
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