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Tipsheet

Another Biden Nominee Could Be in Trouble

Stand Against Stu

Yet another Biden administration nominee could be in trouble as President Joe Biden has selected particularly troublesome nominees. Not only do Democrats have such a small majority in the Senate, but Biden is putting forth nominees who even more moderate members can't get on board with, especially so soon before the 2024 election. Julie Su, who has been nominated as Biden's next labor secretary could be the next casualty when it comes to ultimately doomed nominees.

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A Monday morning report from The Hill mentions Su is on "shaky ground" when it comes to Democratic senators like Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) who serves on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. "I think it’s going to take some work," he said about getting her confirmed. "It’s sort of what they used to say about the NFL--on any given Sunday."

Hickenlooper is not up for reelection until 2026, but the report also mentions how vulnerable Democrats up in 2024, like Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana have not yet indicated whether they will support Su. 

"Julie who?" Manchin responded to Bloomberg Law last month when asked. "I haven’t thought about that," he added. 

Tester told The Hill he still has to look at her and her record, adding "I just haven’t had a chance to look at it.

"I already voted to confirm her to be the deputy secretary of labor," he told Bloomberg Law last month. "But this is obviously a different job and I’m taking a look at it."

Su's record could very well be an issue, as raised by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a moderate Republican up for reelection in 2026 who has sometimes votes with the Democrats to confirm Biden nominees. 

"I haven’t looked at it yet. I worked well with Secretary Walsh," Collins told Bloomberg Law, speaking about Marty Walsh, who currently holds the position. "I’ve had no contact with her," she said about Su. "I remember being concerned about the way that she administered the unemployment compensation program in California." Su had served as the Secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency from 2019 to 2021. 

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Such a concern could indeed spell doom for Su's nomination. As Bloomberg Law mentioned:

At issue is Su’s leadership enforcing the state’s worker classification law known as A.B. 5, which presumes workers are employees under the law, making it harder for them to be classified as independent contractors. Large tech companies and business and independent worker groups opposed the law, saying it would destroy business and force legitimate contractors into unnecessary employment relationships.

But proponents of the law said it provided protections like workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance to employees who were wrongfully being misclassified as independent contractors by companies looking to cut costs and reduce their legal liabilities.

Su’s critics have also zeroed in on the failures of California’s unemployment insurance system under her leadership, pointing to more than $10 billion in jobless benefits lost to fraud during the pandemic after the state’s workforce agency failed to apply recommended updates to the system—issues she was grilled on during her confirmation process for deputy labor secretary.

While Su blamed the Golden State’s fraud troubles on outdated technology and an overwhelming surge of new unemployment claims, the issue could resurface during her confirmation hearings amid a new GOP and White House push to address pandemic-related identity theft and fraud. The DOL’s Employment and Training Administration oversees the federal-state unemployment system, and the Biden administration also created an office of unemployment insurance modernization within the Office of the Labor Secretary in 2021.

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Concerns with Su's record could come back to haunt Sens. Manchin and Tester, as well as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), who is up for reelection next year but has not yet announced her intentions. Stand Against Su recently formed in response to their opposition to her confirmation, placing billboard ads in West Virginia, Montana, and Arizona, with more to come.

The Stand Against Su website lists out many bullet points as to who Su is to highlight why she's wrong for the job, including how she is "Radical on Border Security;" "An enemy of employers and business owners;" "A threat to entrepreneurs, independent contractors, and tipped workers;" and "Deaf to the voices of millions of hard-working Americans fighting for economic freedom." 

"One thing Julie Su can NEVER be?," the website also points out, is Secretary of Labor. 

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Tom Manzo, the president and founder of The California Business and Industrial Alliance (CABIA) provided a statement for Townhall highlighting Su's record and their concerns. "Julie Su is the most radical and flawed nominee for Labor Secretary in recent memory. In California, Su presided over wide-scale unemployment insurance fraud and threatened to put thousands of business owners out of work. Rejecting her nomination is necessary to protect America's small business community," he said. 

Su is hardly the only nominee that the Biden administration has had trouble confirming. Just last month, Philip Washington withdrew his nomination to be considered as head of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after raising concerns that he knew nothing about aviation, though Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg still defended him and made opposition out to be about "an onslaught of Republican attacks." Earlier in March, Gigi Sohn also withdrew as the top telecommunications regulator for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with there being concerns about her divisiveness. 

As a reminder of the focus there is on nominating and confirming people based on ethnicity rather than qualifications, The Hill's reporting mentions that "Su would be the first Asian American member of Biden’s Cabinet if confirmed."

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