Julie Su’s nomination for labor secretary headed for second Senate vote

A key Senate committee is planning to vote again on Julie Su’s nomination to become the next secretary of labor, according to a new nomination notice posted on Tuesday, although it’s unclear if the acting labor secretary has received any additional support that would enable her to win on the Senate floor.

The White House renominated Su to become labor secretary and sent it to the Senate in early January, after the Senate returned her and other nominations before departing for the Christmas recess. Biden has been able to use a loophole to keep her on indefinitely, in an acting capacity. Su took over in March for Marty Walsh, who left the Department of Labor to represent professional hockey players.

Biden first nominated Su in February 2023, and the panel voted along party lines to advance Su’s nomination in late April, 11-10. However, her nomination languished and never made it to the floor after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) made it clear he would not support her and Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ)’s stances were unclear. 

A Manchin opposition, combined with one other Democratic defection, could halt Su’s confirmation. She needs at least 50 votes in the Senate, in which Democrats have a slim 51-49 hold over Republicans. 

“I believe the person leading the U.S. Department of Labor should have the experience to collaboratively lead both labor and industry to forge compromises acceptable to both parties,” Manchin said in a statement at the time.

“While her credentials and qualifications are impressive, I have genuine concerns that Julie Su’s more progressive background prevents her from doing this,” he continued. “For that reason I cannot support her nomination to serve as Secretary of Labor.” 

It’s unclear if Manchin’s stance would change this time around after he decided he will not be running for reelection to the U.S. Senate. Su’s nomination could prove another opportunity for Manchin to become a thorn in President Joe Biden’s side, after declining to endorse Biden’s run for president. 

“The president has had a very good working relationship with Sen. Manchin the last three years.  They, the two of them, along with other congressional members, have been able to get some historic legislation passed on behalf of the American people,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, speaking with reporters on Monday. “I can’t speak to his decision. That is something for him to speak to. We appreciate, obviously, our working relationship with the senator.” 

Su’s nomination was met with heavy criticism from Senate Republicans and centrist Democrats alike, largely based on her time leading California’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency during the pandemic. On Su’s watch, the state fulfilled between $20 billion and $32 billion in fraudulent unemployment claims, and roughly 5 million Californians saw their benefits payments severely delayed. 


Many of those senators also took issue with her treatment of independent contractors and said she had not established good enough relationships with the business community as California’s labor secretary.

Su is the longest-serving Cabinet nominee in more than 130 years in a situation in which the same party controls the White House and the Senate. If Su were confirmed, she would be Biden’s first Asian American Cabinet secretary. She has received vocal support from the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

Related articles

Share article

Latest articles