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Fast-food mogul Andrew
Puzder withdraws as Trump labor nominee
By a reporter
16 February 2017
fast-food boss Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination to head the Department of
Labor Wednesday, in another sign of the deepening political crisis of the Trump
administration. He is the first one of Trump’s 16 cabinet picks to fail to win
Puzder withdrew after
four Republican senators on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
announced they would vote against him, enough to block the nomination in
committee, since every Democrat was opposed. Another dozen Republicans had
refused to commit themselves to vote for Puzder in a vote on the Senate floor,
the first time a Trump nomination has attracted significant Republican
In the end, the split
in the Republicans is what torpedoed the nomination, since the Senate has
confirmed a series of Trump nominees by near party-line votes, including Steven
Mnuchin for Treasury secretary, by 53-47, and Betsy DeVos to head the
Department of Education, by 52-48.
The Democrats had
staged their usual for-the-
record opposition, citing Puzder’s opposition
increasing the minimum wage and his role
as a typically vicious exploiter of
which the fast-food industry is notorious.
What undermined his
support among Republicans however, were two aspects of his personal life:
allegations of domestic violence by his first wife, and his hiring of an
undocumented woman as a housekeeper, while concealing his payment of wages. He
did not pay the back taxes for her employment until nominated to become head of
the Department of Labor.
Puzder’s first wife
ultimately retracted the domestic violence charge as part of her divorce
settlement, but last week a 29-year-old television tape from the Oprah Winfrey
Show, in which she detailed the abuse while wearing a disguise, was sent to the
US Senate for review. It was widely circulated on Capitol Hill.
Even more significant in the shift among the
suggestions from right-wing
groups that Puzder’s hiring of an
housekeeper was part of a
larger pattern, and that he was insufficiently
militant in his hostility to immigrant workers.
On that basis, the ultra-right
magazine National Review called Wednesday
for the Senate to
reject his nomination.
There was also some
hostility to Puzder’s nomination among Christian fundamentalist groups over
sexually provocative television ads for his hamburger chains. These groups,
however, endorsed Trump’s presidential campaign, making it difficult for them
to exercise a veto based on such moralizing.
Puzder had the full
support of industry groups, including the US Chamber of Commerce, the
International Franchise Association, the National Restaurant Association and
the National Retail Federation, as well as such Republican Party bigwigs as
former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
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