Yesterday afternoon, Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination for Secretary of Labor, becoming the first Trump cabinet pick to fail to be confirmed. The fast-food executive and multi-billionaire received heavy criticism from both sides of the Senate aisle.
After his confirmation hearing was continuously delayed, the Senate was finally expected to vote today. But a number of Republican Senators, including Maine's Susan Collins, Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, Georgia's
Johnny Isakson, and South Carolina's Tim Scott, came out as either undecided or opposed to Puzder’s nomination.
Instead of going through a confirmation hearing that he most likely would have failed to pass, Puzder instead decided to save face and withdraw his candidacy for Secretary of Labor.
I am withdrawing my nomination for Secretary of Labor. I'm honored to have been considered and am grateful to all who have supported me.— Andy Puzder (@AndyPuzder) February 15, 2017
Puzder has received criticism on both a professional and personal level. One reason is that he was CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of fast-food chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., who has been known to pay extremely low wages and deny employees appropriate overtime compensation. Outside of his controversial labor record, the wealthy executive also disclosed that he employed an undocumented worker as his house cleaner, and was accused of domestic abuse by his ex-wife (accusations that have since been dropped).
His nomination has been staunchly opposed by labor unions across the country, many of which believe Puzder would undermine their attempt to raise the federal minimum wage, expand eligibility for overtime, and properly enforce violations by employers.
Puzder is the first nomination for Trump’s cabinet to be blocked from approval, hinting the Republican Party might be breaking from the divisive president. The Trump administration has been even more under fire since former national security advisor Michael Flynn was forced to resign after he was caught having illegal conversations with Russian officials about lifting US sanctions.
While Puzder might be the first cabinet appointment not to make it to a confirmation hearing, he’s far from the only controversial Trump pick. The Republican-heavy Senate recently approved Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who was only confirmed thanks to a historic tie-breaking vote by Mike Pence. Trump’s pick for US attorney general, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, has also received flack for alleged racism and harsh anti-cannabis stance.
All in all, the growing dissent against the Labor Secretary pick might not even be a slight against Puzder himself, but instead at the president who is becoming increasingly difficult to stand behind. With a deep investigation on the Trump administration’s ties to Russia likely underway, denying the Puzder’s nomination could be the first of many jabs that Capitol Hill throws at Trump.