At least four Senate Republicans, including Susan Collins of Maine, are withholding their support for Andy Puzder to run the Labor Department.
President Donald Trump’s pick of Puzder, a fast-food executive, has run into resistance on Capitol Hill over his admission that he employed an undocumented housekeeper, among other issues.
“No, I haven’t,” Collins said when asked Monday if she had decided to back Puzder, whose confirmation hearing is scheduled for Thursday. “I’m going to wait until the issues that have arisen are fully explored at his hearing.”
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Tim Scott of South Carolina, and Johnny Isakson of Georgia are also withholding their backing for Puzder, saying they are waiting for the confirmation hearing. In the 52-48 Senate, three Republican defections would doom Puzder if all 48 Democrats vote to deny him.
The uncertainty over Puzder – head of the fast food conglomerate CKE Restaurants Inc. that includes Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s — comes after a week that saw party-line confirmations in the Senate and a tie-breaking vote cast by Vice President Mike Pence for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. That 51-50 tally was the first time a vice president has ever broken a tie on a cabinet nomination.
The Senate voted 52-47 last week to approve Attorney General Jeff Sessions, after a bitter day-long debate that saw Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell silence Democrat Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Days later, the Senate again split 52-47 in approving Representative Tom Price to head the Department of Health and Human Services in a fight that stretched until 2:30 a.m.
McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said allegations of hiring undocumented workers have at times sunk cabinet nominees, but not always.
“We’re always looking for nominees who have never made a mistake,” McConnell told reporters last week. “Frequently it’s impossible to find nominees who have never made a mistake. He realized the mistake. He fixed it and I think is eminently qualified for the job, and for myself, I’m enthusiastically in his camp.”