Democratic senator Joe Manchin (W.Va.) said on Thursday he would oppose the nomination of Julie Su as labor secretary, arguing her "progressive background" would prevent her from forging compromises between labor and industry representatives.
Manchin said in a statement the labor secretary "should have the experience to collaboratively lead both labor and industry to forge compromises acceptable to both parties" and added he had concerns that "Su's more progressive background prevents her from doing this."
President Joe Biden nominated Su, a civil rights lawyer and former California labor commissioner who has served as a deputy labor secretary since 2021, to become labor secretary in February. Su previously served as California's labor secretary.
Su has been controversial for her time as California labor secretary, when she oversaw an estimated $31 billion in fraudulent unemployment payouts after freezing checks on claims. California’s unemployment insurance fund is now in a nearly $20 billion hole.
She was tapped to replace Marty Walsh, who left the post in March to become head of the National Hockey League players' union. Su became acting secretary when Walsh stepped down.
Democrats narrowly control the Senate 51-49 with the support of three independents. No Republicans have endorsed Su. If both Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who switched from being a Democrat to an independent in December, oppose Su, she would not be able to win confirmation without Republican support.
A White House official said Biden and his aides continued to fight for 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."
"The president's support for Acting Secretary Su is unwavering, and we hope Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema reconsider their position," the White House official added.
Asked if she had taken a position on Su, a spokesperson for Sinema said the senator "doesn't preview her votes."
Last month, Su helped negotiate a crucial contract deal between U.S. West Coast seaport employers and the union representing 22,000 workers.
Su's nomination has been pending since a Senate committee voted along party lines in April to advance her nomination.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who chaired Su's confirmation hearing, said earlier she is "prepared to take on powerful special interests and stand up for the needs of the working class of this country."
(Reporting by Rami Ayyub, Nandita Bose and David Shepardson; Editing by Kanishka Singh and Jamie Freed)
Published under: Joe Manchin