Fast food executive Andrew Puzder has withdrawn as Trump’s nominee for the US Secretary of Labor. The announcement comes amidst concerns that he couldn’t garner enough Republican support to be confirmed in the Senate.
The Associated Press and Reuters news agencies reported on Wednesday that Andrew Puzder is withdrawing as US President Donald Trump’s nominee for labor secretary.
The fast food executive said in a statement provided to AP that he was “honored to have been considered by President Donald Trump to lead the Department of Labor and put America’s workers and businesses back on a path to sustainable prosperity.”
Puzder added that “while I won’t be serving in the administration, I fully support the president and his highly qualified team.”
His confirmation hearing was scheduled to take place on Thursday, but many Republicans had raised concerns about Puzder’s failure to pay taxes on a former housekeeper who was not authorized to work in the United States. He eventually paid back the taxes after Trump nominated him for the labor secretary post on December 9 – five years after he fired the worker.
One senator, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press that six Republican senators asked the White House to call off the hearing because they couldn’t see themselves voting for him. Their inability to support him would have placed the nomination in jeopardy since Republicans have only a 52-48 majority in the Senate.
Puzder is the CEO of CKE Restaurants Inc. which owns fast food chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s.
Opposition to nomination
Many Democrats opposed Puzder’s nomination over concerns about his views on overtime and his stance on the minimum wage. Additionally, some CKE workers have said they are victims of wage theft or that they have been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace.
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown said US workers “can breathe a sigh of relief” after Puzder’s announcement. In a statement posted on Twitter, he wrote that Americans want a labor secretary who “supports a living wage, ensures that workers who work more than 40 hours a week receive overtime pay, and fights for Americans’ rights to a healthy and safe workplace.”
Puzder also came under fire over restaurant ads that featured bikini-clad women eating burgers and over court records in which Puzder’s ex-wife accused him of physical abuse.
Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who was on the Senate commitee considering Puzder’s nomination, told reporters on Monday that she was evaluating the domestic violence accusation. She mentioned watching Puzder’s ex-wife’s appearance in disguise on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show in the 1980s, during which she spoke about her experiences as a victim of domestic violence.
Puzder has denied the allegations and his ex-wife has since retracted them.
His withdrawal comes just two days after Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned after being accused of lying to his White House colleagues about his conversations and contacts with Russian officials.
rs/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)