by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Biden’s nomination of Julie Su for secretary of labor has not received Senate approval, but the administration plans to keep her as secretary of labor anyway.
Su was confirmed by the Senate as the deputy secretary of labor in 2021. When Secretary Marty Walsh resigned in March, Su took over as acting secretary, pending the confirmation of a new secretary. Rather than accept that Su does not have the support of the Democratic Senate and nominate someone else, the Biden administration’s plan seems to be to leave her as acting secretary forever.
The Senate would be right to reject Su. Her record of far-left policy and administrative incompetence as California’s secretary of labor from 2019 to 2021 was so poor that every Republican and at least one Democrat, Joe Manchin (W.Va.), is opposed to her nomination. Kyrsten Sinema (I., Ariz.) has not announced a position and has said she would not do so before a vote. The fact that Chuck Schumer has not scheduled a vote, which would not be subject to the filibuster, indicates that she would likely vote no. Jon Tester (D., Mont.) is also undecided.
This wouldn’t be the first time Manchin and Sinema would thwart Democrats’ progressive plans. They also prevented Democrats from passing the full-sized Build Back Better Act that progressives wanted in 2021. The Biden administration’s response then is the same as its response now: Try to bully Manchin and Sinema into changing their minds.
They’re unlikely to do so. “I’ve told [the White House]: ‘Don’t give me people that are advocates.’ This is the concern I’ve had,” Manchin said. “[Sinema] remains focused on doing what’s best for her state — not party bosses,” a Sinema spokesperson said.
Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution says that the president “shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint” officials such as cabinet secretaries. The Senate’s advice on Su is clear: Nominate someone else.