Amid mounting opposition from Democrats and labor groups, the confirmation hearing for labor secretary nominee and fast-food chief executive Andrew Puzder has been delayed a fourth time.
A new hearing date will not be set until the Senate receives key paperwork laying out Puzder’s financial disclosures and detailing his plan for avoiding future conflicts of interest, according to an aide for Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
Puzder’s hearing has been pushed back to give the executive more time to turn in his paperwork and because of delays for other nominees. His hearing was previously scheduled for Feb. 7, Feb. 2, Jan. 17 and Jan. 12.
The latest delay comes as Democrats are taking a harder stance against several of President Trump’s controversial Cabinet picks. On Tuesday, Senate Democrats delayed votes for Trump’s nominees to head departments of Health and Human Services and Treasury by not showing up for the vote.
Separately, Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released a report Tuesday that compiles interviews from past and current employees of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., the burger chains under CKE Restaurants, which Puzder oversees. Workers claimed that they often struggled to make ends meet because of low wages and alleged that they were often asked to work through breaks or take on extra hours without being paid overtime. Several House Democrats held a news conference Tuesday afternoon on Capitol Hill to urge the Senate to reject Puzder’s nomination.
George Thompson, a spokesman for Puzder, said “attacks” from Democrats are holding up the confirmation process. “It’s unfortunate that the deliberate attacks from the Democrats and their special interests will persist because of those bent on obstructing President Trump’s nominees,” Thompson said. “Andy Puzder is what America’s workers and small businesses need — a proven job creator.”
Potential Cabinet members who need to be reviewed by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee are required to turn in some forms that compile general background information and some financial details at least five days before their hearings. Nominees also need to complete a background check with the FBI and submit financial disclosures to the Office of Government Ethics. While the ethics paperwork is not required before the hearing, an aide for Alexander said the new date would not be set until those documents are in.
Puzder is not the only potential Cabinet member to face delays with his paperwork. Education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos did not submit her ethics agreement to the Senate until after her confirmation hearing, a move that sparked criticism from Democrats and led lawmakers to delay her confirmation vote. The members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions panel narrowly voted in favor of DeVos, but two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), said they may not support DeVos when her nomination is put up for a vote by the full Senate.