Democrats on Capitol Hill are pushing for President Trump to withdraw his nomination for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York ripped Puzder, a fast food executive who has come under fire for his company’s labor practices, during a news conference on Capitol Hill Thursday.
“On policy and practice, Andrew Puzder has proven himself to be an enemy, not a champion, of worker’s rights,” Schumer said. “Nominating Puzder to oversee the Labor Department is clearly having a fox guard the henhouse, and a pretty sharp-toothed fox at that.”
Mr. Trump, Schumer continued, “could not have picked a worse nominee” to uphold the goals of the Labor Department, which he then enumerated: “to improve working conditions, to advance opportunities for profitable employment and assure work-related benefits and rights.”
According to a recent report by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), employees of Puzder’s CKE Restaurants were given “low pay” and had a “lack of benefits.” Many of them, NELP contended, thus had to rely on public-assistance programs to survive.
Schumer also took particular issue with Puzder’s stance on the minimum wage, which the CKE executive once called “a big mistake.”
The New York Democrat concluded with a formal call to Mr. Trump to “withdraw” his nominee.
“They ought to withdraw Puzder as nominee before he further embarrasses this Administration and further exposes the hypocrisy of President Trump in saying one thing to the workers of America and then doing another,” he said.
The confirmation process for Puzder stalled in recent weeks after the executive delayed filing appropriate ethics documents and ran into some snags in selling off his holdings in the privately owned CKE Restaurants, which owns fast food chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.
Puzder has also come under harsh scrutiny after acknowledging that he and his wife had employed a housekeeper for years who wasn’t legally authorized to work in the U.S.
“When I learned of her status, we immediately ended her employment and offered her assistance in getting legal status,” Puzder said in a statement over the incident. “We have fully paid back taxes to the IRS and the State of California.”
The top Democrat on the Senate committee reviewing Puzder’s nomination, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, also criticized his “disqualifying” behavior in Thursday’s news conference.
“Not only is Andrew Puzder uniquely unqualified, but his decision to pick and choose what laws he himself follows is disqualifying,” Murray told reporters. “There simply should not be one set of rules for the Trump Cabinet and another for everyone else.”
In a statement to Politico, Puzder spokesperson George Thompson lambasted Schumer and Murray’s press conference as “fake news.”
“The Democrats and their special interests have targeted Andy Puzder, his company and his family with a barrage of attacks and today’s ‘fake news’ conference is no exception,” Thompson said in a statement. “The fact is, Andy is exactly what America’s workers and businesses need: a proven job creator. “