Julie Su might not be the worst pick for U.S. Labor secretary in the 110-year history of the job, but many Californians might say as much if they had a chance to testify at her Senate confirmation hearing this week. Su, who for more than two years served as secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, has served as acting U.S. Labor secretary since the previous one, Marty Walsh, left office in March. The Senate has confirmed her once, as deputy secretary in July 2021, but given the mounting opposition to her nomination, the story might end differently this time.
In a letter to President Joe Biden, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California and other House members said that they were “deeply concerned by the prospect of” Su’s serving not only as permanent secretary of Labor but also of her running Labor “on an acting basis,” as she is currently doing.
While leading the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, Su was also in charge of the state’s Employment Development Department (EDD), the agency responsible for paying jobless benefits—a straightforward task that it hasn’t been able to get right. On her watch, the EDD handed out $170 billion in pandemic jobless relief funds, but a significant portion of that sum (estimates range from $20 billion to nearly $36 billion) was obtained fraudulently.