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Donald Trump

Trump’s choice for labour secretary withdraws nomination

Trump’s labour nominee pulls out amid resistance from Republicans and Democrats in the Senate

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 February, 2017, 4:36am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 February, 2017, 7:16am

US Labour Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination on Wednesday after Senate Republicans said not enough lawmakers from their party would vote to confirm him.

The fast food executive said in a statement that he was “honoured to have been considered by President Donald Trump to lead the Department of Labour and put America’s workers and businesses back on a path to sustainable prosperity.”

Puzder said “while I won’t be serving in the administration, I fully support the President and his highly qualified team.”

Puzder’s confirmation hearing was scheduled for Thursday. But some Republicans had raised concerns about his failure to pay taxes for five years on a former housekeeper who wasn’t authorised to work in the US.

CNN had reported that top US Senate Republicans had asked the White House to withdraw his name from consideration.

Republicans control 52 of the chamber’s 100 seats. If just three Republicans join with all 48 senators who caucus with the Democrats, his nomination would be defeated.

At least seven Republican senators, including Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have declined to publicly back Puzder in advance of his confirmation hearing.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, told CNN on Wednesday he knew of at least six Republicans “who are gravely concerned about this nomination” and are “considering voting against it.”

The Senate committee slated to vet his nomination had not received his testimony for the hearing, according to an aide. Typically, such testimony is submitted 24 hours prior to the hearing’s start time.

Puzder is chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants Inc, which primarily franchises fast-food chains including Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.

The progressive left actively campaigned against Puzder amid concerns about his views on overtime and the minimum wage and claims by some CKE workers who say they are victims of wage theft or victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.

In recent weeks other issues have surfaced that could make some Republicans uncomfortable.

Earlier this month, Puzder admitted he and his wife had employed an undocumented person as a housekeeper and had to pay back taxes as a result.

On Wednesday, conservative magazine National Review published an op-ed that urged the Senate to vote against Puzder because of his support for guest worker visa programmes and other policies that it claims undercut American workers in favour of foreign ones.