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Growing debate over Biden's Labor Secretary nomination

Deputy Labor Secretary Julie Su used to oversee California's labor department.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — On Wednesday, California lawmakers, both state and federal, called out President Joe Biden’s nomination of Julie Su to be the next U.S. Labor Secretary.

Su used to oversee Californians labor department. 

There were only three times in the 20th century where the Senate formally rejected someone the president appointed to be in his own cabinet, and Su has already been approved once in 2021, when the Senate confirmed her to be the Deputy Secretary of Labor. 

Republican California Congressman Kevin Kiley puts blame on Su for some of California’s failures during the pandemic. 

“Because of her her gross negligence, the EDD (Employment Development Department) made upwards of $30 billion in fraudulent payments to fraudsters and criminals, the largest fraud of taxpayer dollars in history,” Kiley said. 

Su also enforced Assembly Bill 5, which required companies that hire independent contractors to reclassify them as employees. 

"Their careers have been ended, their freedom to work, when they wanted, where they wanted, was destroyed," Republican Assemblymember James Gallagher said. "And their financial wellbeing was jeopardized. That's not pro worker."

That enforcement however, is also what supporters like. 

“Certainly for those who would like to not pay the minimum wage or protect for health and safety at the workplace, they would criticize ab five," Center For Workers' Right Executive Director Daniela Urban said. "But for us, it's been an essential law to clarify who is and who is not an employee.”

Urban's group worked to help people get benefits during the height of the pandemic. 

“Without her leadership, we would have seen even longer delays in the payment of benefits, we would have seen even more hurdles and claimants being able to access the benefits they were entitled to,” Urban said. 

Su has already been confirmed by the Senate once in 2021 to be the Deputy Secretary of Labor by a narrow vote of 50 to 47, down party lines. 

“Almost all presidential appointees, regardless of party, are going to on the natural be inclined to be supported by the Democrat majority,"  McGeorge School of Law Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli said. "And frankly, some of the things that she stands accused of, if you will, are issues that are of less concern at the national level by united states senators”

Micheli doesn’t see a picture where she is not confirmed. 

“She has the president's strong endorsement, she has many groups, labor organizations, Asian Pacific Islander groups who would love to see someone appointed to the President's cabinet," Micheli said. "She stands for worker rights, among other things, which are important for Democratic senators. So I don't see the president backing away.”

We reached out to the Department of Labor to see if Su was available for an interview or comment.

WATCH RELATED: Bureau of Labor Statistics: Latinas make $.54 to every $1 earned by a white man (Dec. 2022).

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