Puzder hearing scheduled—now senators have an opportunity to show where they stand
President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, has a new date for his confirmation hearing—February 16, a week from tomorrow. This marks the fifth time the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) will attempt to consider Puzder’s nomination. While much speculation surrounds the repeated delays, today’s announcement makes one thing clear—President Trump and Senate Republicans are doubling down on a nominee whose policy positions are bad for U.S. workers. Now, senators will have an opportunity to show where they stand.
When HELP Committee members finally get a chance to question Puzder on his positions and plans for the Labor Department, they should demand that he explain his views on minimum wage. Puzder has claimed that increasing the minimum wage costs jobs; senators should ask him how he explains that California has a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum wage yet has seen faster economic growth—including in the restaurant industry—than the country as a whole. Senators should ask Puzder if he knows how many Americans were killed at work before the Occupational Safety and Health Act was enacted in 1970. Does he know how many workers are killed each year now, in an economy twice as big? Still far too many, but fewer than before—demonstrating the importance of meaningful workplace safety standards. Finally, senators should demand that he explain his own company’s record of wage and hour and OSHA violations.
President Trump’s insistence on advancing Puzder as his nominee for labor secretary reveals that his agenda is to pursue an economy that works great for corporate owners and those at top, but does not work for low-and middle- income families. After decades of wage stagnation and weakened worker protections, we need a labor secretary who will advocate for a strong minimum wage and meaningful worker protections. The Senate now has a chance to demand that workers get a secretary who will guard their rights and advance an agenda that works for them. We will see if they agree that America’s workers deserve better than Mr. Puzder.