Will Julie Su become Biden’s new secretary of labor?

Julie Su, President Joe Biden's nominee to become secretary of labor, testified before the Senate HELP Committee on Thursday.
Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Women are rising amid rapid CEO turnover, Boston restauranteur Barbara Lynch faces allegations of abuse, and Julie Su could be Biden’s next secretary of labor—if she makes it through an uncertain confirmation process. Happy Thursday!

– Tough confirmation. Julie Su spent yesterday in the hot seat. President Joe Biden’s nominee to succeed Marty Walsh as secretary of labor appeared before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions for the first day of her confirmation hearing.

While Su’s nomination is supported by labor leaders, her confirmation is not a sure thing. Some Democrats, like West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, and Arizona Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (formerly a Democrat) have not committed to supporting Su; in a 51-49 Democratic-controlled Senate, securing nearly every liberal senator’s vote is critical to confirmation to the Cabinet.

Su secured Democrats’ votes for her confirmation as deputy secretary of labor in 2021; she took over as acting secretary when Walsh left the administration in March and Biden nominated her to fill the role permanently that month. Before joining the Biden administration, Su served as California’s labor commissioner and secretary. She’s represented low-wage and immigrant workers as an attorney.

Julie Su, President Joe Biden’s nominee to become secretary of labor, testified before the Senate HELP Committee on Thursday.
Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Business groups like the International Franchise Association, American Trucking Association, and the gig economy interest group the Flex Association have opposed Su’s nomination based on her track record as a labor ally in California; business-minded critics worry Su will implement regulations to protect gig economy workers and object to her support for such efforts in California.

But Su has been making the rounds with lawmakers and business leaders in recent weeks, and the opposition campaign has failed to recruit some business groups that joined to tank a lower-ranking Department of Labor nomination last year.

During yesterday’s confirmation hearing, Su fielded questions about her record in California as Republicans attempt to win moderate Democrats to their side in the vote. She told the committee that she seeks to expand the “vast areas of common ground between employers and employees” and aligned herself with her former boss Walsh, who was relatively popular with Republicans. She also leaned on her personal story; when asked if she would go after the business model of franchising, she reminded senators that her Chinese immigrant parents owned dry-cleaning and laundromat businesses as well as a franchise pizza restaurant.

If confirmed, Su would be the first Asian-American Pacific Islander cabinet secretary in the Biden administration (other AAPI cabinet members, like U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Vice President Kamala Harris, are not secretaries).

“When he announced my nomination for U.S. Secretary of Labor, the president called me ‘the American Dream,’” Su said during her testimony. “My parents believed in it, I benefited from it, and I want to do my part to make sure it is a reality for workers across the nation.”

On Wednesday, the Senate committee is expected to vote on whether to advance Su’s nomination to the full Senate.

Emma Hinchliffe

The Broadsheet is Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Today’s edition was curated by Kinsey Crowley. Subscribe here.


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