Leading Senate Democrats announced during a Thursday press conference that they will use any means necessary to block the confirmation of Labor Secretary nominee Andy Puzder.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, called on Puzder to withdraw his nomination. Schumer reiterated that the Democratic Party would serve as a united front against President Trump's nominees after the contentious battle over Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who became the first cabinet appointee to ever require a vice president's tie-breaking vote.
"We're using everything we can to stop these awful nominees," Schumer said. "We hope Puzder will be withdrawn."
Puzder is the first career businessman nominated to head the Labor Department since 1981. He is the CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's franchises. Schumer and Murray spoke alongside a California fast food worker, who accused Puzder of "stealing" from her by not paying her a $15 minimum wage or providing her with paid sick days. She called the nomination "the latest proof of how our economy is rigged."
Nearly all Hardee's and Carl's Jr. restaurants are franchises in which small business owners, rather than the parent company, determine work conditions and pay scales. The company has been hit with dozens of unfair labor practice complaints since Puzder was nominated though it denies that it is liable for any of the complaints.
Schumer said Puzder's nomination represents a betrayal of Trump's campaign message and described Trump's record on cabinet nominees as "abysmal."
"He campaigned as a populist. He's governing as a hard-right militant. That's what Puzder is," Schumer said. "The Trump administration will stand for not good working conditions."
Murray and Schumer have been major recipients of union campaign donations over their careers. Murray has received $2.1 million from organized labor during her career, making unions one of her most lucrative support bases, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Schumer, meanwhile, has received $1.3 million from private and public sector unions.
Puzder's nomination will first have to clear the HELP committee before going to the Senate floor for a vote. Murray criticized Puzder for the treatment of women in the fast food industry highlighting the company's use of bikini-clad women in its advertising. Murray led Democratic efforts to block DeVos' confirmation, ensuring that all 11 Democrats on the committee voted against affirming her nomination. She and Schumer said that their colleagues will continue to oppose Trump's nominees.
"We think we've been very effective in showing who they are and putting some constraints on their actions," Schumer said. "Almost every one of these nominees indicates a broken promise to the working people of America."
"They [Republicans] are going to regret this," Schumer added regarding Puzder's nomination.
Puzder is scheduled to appear before the HELP committee on February 16.