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Dems mount effort to reject Puzder as labor secretary

By Doug G. Ware
Dems mount effort to reject Puzder as labor secretary
Vice President Mike Pence shakes hands with labor secretary designate Andrew Puzder after a meeting with President Donald Trump at the Trump International Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on November 20. Thursday, several Democrats voiced opposition to Puzder's appointment to the Labor Department. File Photo by Peter Foley/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 9 (UPI) -- With Jeff Sessions cleared as U.S. attorney general, Democratic lawmakers adjusted their efforts Thursday to killing the nomination of Andrew Puzder as President Donald Trump's labor secretary.

Several Democratic leaders spoke out Thursday against Puzder's appointment, claiming the businessman is unqualified and unfit to lead the agency -- based on his track record and that of CKE Restaurants under his executive leadership.

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Puzder, 66, faces a confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions next week -- about two months after he was nominated by Trump to lead the labor department.

RELATED Tuesday: Labor nominee Puzder employed undocumented housekeeper

"They ought to withdraw Mr. Puzder before he further embarrasses this administration and further exposes the hypocrisy of President Trump, who says one thing to the American worker and does another," Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said at a news conference Thursday. "Everything in his career is antithetical to the goals of the Department of Labor."

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Earlier this week, it was reported that Puzder had once hired an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper in the past -- a scenario that has previously derailed other Cabinet nominees.

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Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chair of the committee that will vet Puzder, said the restaurateur can expect a rigorous confirmation process if he doesn't abandon his nomination.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said one factor that suggests Puzder is a poor fit for the job is the wealth gap between he and his CKE employees.

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"We don't need a labor secretary who makes $10 million a year, while his workers are paid starvation wages and live in homeless shelters," he tweeted Thursday.

RELATED December: Trump picks fast-food executive Andy Puzder for labor chief

Puzder could face a tough vote in the full Senate if Democrats find enough support. Trump and some Republicans, though, have supported Puzder as well-suited for the post.

"The fact is, Andy is exactly what America's workers and businesses need: a proven job creator," a spokesman for the nominee said. " He knows that success is achieved through hard work. And to address his qualifications for the job, Andy Puzder understands how the right policies can spur economic growth and bring more opportunity for all Americans."

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"As [labor secretary], I look forward to working with President Trump to enact policies that create jobs and grow businesses," Puzder tweeted after his Dec. 8 nomination.

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Puzder is expected to testify before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on Feb. 16.

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