US President Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Labour, Andrew Puzder, has dropped out of the running for the position just a day before his confirmation hearing.
“I am honored to have been considered by President Donald Trump to lead the Department of Labour,” Puzder said in an e-mailed statement. “While I won’t be serving in the administration, I fully support the President and his highly qualified team.”
Earlier Wednesday, CNN reported that top Republicans in the Senate encouraged the White House to withdraw Puzder’s nomination, due to concerns that the fast-food CEO would not receive the necessary votes to be confirmed. A senior GOP source told CNN that at least four Republicans planned to vote against Puzder, and that up to 12 senators could vote against his confirmation.
Puzder, who was CEO of CKE Restaurants — the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s — is a vocal opponent of raising the minimum wage and of the Affordable Care Act, arguing that the policies result in lower employment rates. He has faced criticism from the left for his past opposition of overtime pay, as well as Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s history of breaking the law by underpaying workers — with so-called wage theft — a common issue in the fast-food industry.
“Puzder had no business running the Labour Department — an agency that uncovered wage theft at a number of Puzder’s own restaurants — and it remains baffling that President Trump even nominated him in the first place,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, in an e-mailed statement in response to news of the withdrawal.
On the right, Puzder has faced criticism for his pro-immigration stance. While in December, Puzder stated that to “hire American and buy American is our policy,” in 2015 the fast-food CEO criticised Republican candidates for their anti-immigration policies.
Puzder’s personal life has also raised questions. Politico obtained a tape of Puzder’s ex-wife, Lisa Fierstein, on The Oprah Winfrey Show, saying that he had “vowed revenge” on her when she claimed her had abused her. Fierstein later retracted her allegations of domestic abuse.
Puzder also admitted to employing an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper, despite the Trump administration’s strong condemnation of illegal immigration.
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