A Biden administration official criticized Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Krysten Sinema (I-AZ) for apparently announcing that they plan to vote against approving Julie Su, Biden’s choice for Labor Secretary, reports Politico.
Julie Su is a Chinese and Taiwanese American attorney who has been serving as Biden’s acting Secretary of Labor since February, but Senatorial confirmation has eluded her. She would be the Biden administration’s first Asian American cabinet secretary if confirmed.
Manchin called the Stanford-and-Harvard-educated official’s credentials “impressive,” but said he decided to vote against her confirmation over a “genuine concern” over ideology.
Manchin objected to her “progressive background,” saying it would prevent her from forging compromises between labor and employers.
Sinema has avoided publicly declaring her position on Su’s confirmation, but the comments from the White House imply that she has privately signaled her no vote. Sinema reportedly does not usually forecast her votes.
Since no Republicans are expected to support her nomination, Su can only lose one Democratic-caucusing Senator and still win her confirmation. No Republican is considered likely to flip; but Manchin might accept her appointment in return for promises on labor policy, especially as he has expressed concern with her ideology, rather than competence.
The White House official said “President Biden and his team continue fighting for Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su’s confirmation — because she is highly qualified, experienced, and has proven herself time and time again when it comes to delivering for America’s workers and our economy,” adding “We hope, Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema reconsider their position.”
NBC reports Su could potentially continue in the acting secretary as there is no time limit for someone to serve in a temporary capacity.
Su managed to win Manchin’s support two years ago for her current position of Acting Labor Secretary, but now it is elusive.
Su has the strong backing of many labor unions and Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations, including the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States. AFL-CIO spokesperson Ray Zaccaro described their support for her, telling Politico “Julie Su has been a champion for labor, and labor is mobilizing in the way only we can.”
Before joining the Biden administration, Su was California’s Secretary of Labor, where she created a series of 10-year “moonshot” proposals for reimagining work in more equitable ways.
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