Biden Labor Nominee In Jeopardy: Key Dems Silent On How They’ll Vote
Julie Su nominated to lead federal agency despite disastrous record as California labor secretary
President Biden’s nomination of Julie Su to lead the Department of Labor is on thin ice in the Senate, as several moderate Democrats have yet to voice support amid scrutiny of Su’s disastrous record as California labor secretary.
With just a 51-49 margin of control in the Senate — and Dianne Feinstein out battling shingles with no return date set — Democrats need everyone to line up for Su. So far, however, Mark Kelly (AZ), Joe Manchin (WV), Jon Tester (MT) and the now-independent Krysten Sinema (AZ) have refused to voice their support.
During Su’s tenure, California’s labor department paid out some $33 billion in fraudulent unemployment claims. In the first six months of the pandemic, a whopping 36.6% of the total benefits paid out were for bogus claims.
Put on the defensive in Thursday’s Senate confirmation hearing, Su said, “Fraud, waste and abuse of any kind is completely unacceptable,” she said. “I shut the front door to that fraud.”
But when? Early on, the federal government warned Su’s department that it needed to beef up its counter-fraud efforts. In May 2020, the US DoL told California that its March and April claims likely included $1.2 billion in fraud. Rather than tightening things up, California stopped using a functionality that stops payments that are flagged as suspicious — and the criminals’ gold rush ran wild.
Criminals’ contempt for California’s vetting system was evident in the claims, many of which were field with carefree levity. One crook received money using Senator Feinstein’s identity. Another cashed in as “Mr. Poopy Pants.” Many of the fraudsters filed their claims from behind bars.
Mitt Romney ridiculed her nomination:
“Your record [in California] is so severely lacking, I don’t know how in the world it makes sense for the president to nominate you to take over this department…You haven’t had experience negotiating a major deal between unions and management and your leadership of an enterprise resulted in $31 billion of fraudulent payments.”
The unemployment claims fiasco isn’t the only mark against Su. She also championed the implementation of California’s AB5 law, which recharacterized independent contractors as employees.
Targeting Uber and other other “gig economy” workers, the law unleashed mayhem for all kinds of people in various industries who wanted flexible hours. So bad were the consequences that voters in 2020 approved an initiative to exempt many types of workers from the law’s reach.
Dread of a federal version of AB5 has prompted business groups to oppose Su’s nomination, along with Republicans on Capitol Hill.
“This is the final front: the nomination of AB 5’s architect and lead enforcer, former California Labor Secretary Julie Su, to the highest labor position in America,” said California Republican Rep. Kevin Kiley in a separate labor hearing in the House. “It is a direct and literal transfer of California failures to Washington.”
While America is losing their proxy war against Russia, China and Iran are poised to attack.