The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee has delayed the confirmation hearing of Andrew Puzder, President-elect Trump’s nominee to head the Labor Department.
Late Monday night, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-TN, chair of the HELP Committee, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA, ranking member of the committee, announced that the confirmation hearing of Mr. Trump’s nomination to lead the Education Department, Betsy DeVos, has been moved to January 17th, when Puzder’s hearing was tentatively scheduled.
The delay in the hearings was requested by Senate leadership to accommodate the chamber’s schedule, according to the statement from Sens. Alexander and Murray.
Speculation has emerged claiming the delay of DeVos’ hearing is due to the incomplete review of her financial disclosures by the Office of Government Ethics. DeVos, a billionaire, first submitted documents to the OGE in December, according to media reports.
Puzder’s financial statements have been submitted to the OGE, according to the Trump transition team, as reported by Reuters.
But the OGE has yet to publish Puzder’s disclosures on its website, suggesting the agency’s review may be incomplete. The disclosures of other nominees, including for the Secretary of State, the Central Intelligence Agency, and Attorney General positions, have already been posted on OGE’s website.
Mr. Puzder has served as CEO of CKE Restaurants Inc. since 2000. In 2012, CKE withdrew its application to take the company public, due to the impacts of a drought on commodity prices and the Supreme Court’s upholding of the Affordable Care Act.
According to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Puzder earned $1.07 million in base salary for fiscal year 2012. He earned roughly another $1.25 million in bonuses and almost $2 million in cash incentives based on company performance. His total compensation was $4.48 million in 2012.
In 2011, Puzder earned $10.1 million in total compensation, according to SEC filings.
Sen. Warren offers preview of Puzder confirmation hearing
On Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, heard testimony from former and current CKE Restaurant employees during a Senate forum.
Warren, a member of the HELP committee, said Puzder is “not the kind of American person workers can trust to stand up for them.”
Last week, Sen. Alexander denied a request by Warren and Sen. Murray to include testimony from CKE workers during Puzder’s confirmation hearing.
During Tuesday’s forum, Warren presented results from a survey of more than 550 CKE employees, which showed that one-third claimed to have had to work extra hours without pay. More than two-thirds of surveyed women claimed to have experienced unwanted sexual advances in the workplace. The Restaurant Opportunities Center United, which says its mission is to improve the wages and working conditions of restaurant workers, conducted the survey.
The forum heard testimony from three former and current CKE employees, who levied claims ranging from unpaid hours worked and lack of break time, to lack of maternity leave, and described conditions perpetuated by understaffing and overworked employees.
One, a single mom of six children, earns for $8.75 an hour working the graveyard shift at a Carl’s Jr. restaurant in Las Vegas.
Another, a former employee who worked as a general manager for 20 years in California, claimed to have often worked unpaid overtime hours.
A third from Los Angeles, who spoke through a translator, spent 18 years working in fast food restaurants, claimed to have a paycheck stolen.
Warren said the hearing was necessary, in light of the HELP committee chair’s refusal to hear the workers’ testimony.
“We’re hear to start a real inquiry as to whether or not Mr. Puzder is a person that can be trusted to stand up for all workers,” said Warren.
Puzder will have the opportunity to respond to the allegations during his confirmation hearing, she noted.