Reports: Andrew Puzder’s nomination to be Labor secretary in peril
(USA Today) – WASHINGTON – Top Senate Republicans are urging the White House to withdraw Andrew Puzder’s nomination as Labor secretary, saying the embattled fast-food magnate doesn’t have the votes to win confirmation, according to news reports.
At least four Republicans are prepared to vote against Puzder, which would be enough to sink his nomination, CNN first reported on Wednesday.
The request to withdraw the nomination comes the day before Puzder was to appear for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and amid growing concerns about workplace practices at his restaurants, his admission that he once employed an undocumented housekeeper and allegations of domestic violence leveled by his former wife — allegations that she has since recanted.
Puzder has become the latest target of liberal interest groups who have been unable to block other Trump nominees.
The White House and Senate GOP leaders had stood behind Puzder even as the attacks against him have escalated. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters that Puzder was an “outstanding choice.”
Some other Republicans, however, have been on the fence.
At least four GOP senators on the committee — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Tim Scott of South Carolina — have declined to say whether they would support his nomination.
“I have not reached a decision,” Collins said. “I almost always wait until there’s a hearing, unless I know the individual well. I’ve had two conversations with Mr. Puzder. I think there are outstanding questions that I’m sure will be delved into at his hearing.”
Two other Republican senators who aren’t on the committee — Rob Portman of Ohio and John Thune of South Dakota — also said this week they aren’t ready to back Puzder, which could be an indication that doubts about his nomination are more widespread among other members of the GOP.
“No matter how you cut it, there is no worse pick for Labor Secretary than Andrew Puzder, and I’m encouraged my Republican colleagues are starting to agree,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement. “He does not belong anywhere near the Labor Department, let alone at the head of it. Puzder’s disdain for the American worker, the very people he would be responsible for protecting, is second to none.
“President Trump should immediately withdraw this nomination and nominate a champion of worker’s rights.”
Puzder, who lives in Franklin, Tenn., is CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. fast-food chains.
They also blasted comments he has made about his workers. He once described his restaurant employees as “the best of the worst” and said he would like to replace them with machines because robots don’t take vacation or file age, sex or race discrimination cases.
On Wednesday, Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the committee that will hold his confirmation hearing, joined representatives from the National Women’s Law Center and the National Partnership for Women and Families at a press conference in which they argued Puzder’s record shows he would not uphold women’s rights and safety in the workplace.
Besides the workplace conditions at Puzder’s restaurants and his opposition to raising the minimum wage, Murray and others also blasted Puzder’s defense of racy television ads featuring bikini-clad women that had been aired by his restaurant company.
Murray called the ads disgusting and degrading and said, “A corporate culture grounded in objectifying women has no place in our government or for that matter the 21st century.”
Senators on the committee also have been reviewing a tape of the Oprah Winfrey Show from 1990 in which Puzder’s ex-wife, Lisa Fierstein, claimed that he had abused her during their marriage. Fierstein first made the allegations in the couple’s divorce papers from 1987.
Puzder denied the allegations, and Fierstein later recanted them.