Andrew Puzder, President Trump’s pick to head the Labor Department, is withdrawing his name as nominee to the Cabinet position.
"After careful consideration and discussions with my family, I am withdrawing my nomination for Secretary of Labor. I am honored to have been considered by President Donald Trump to lead the Department of Labor and put America’s workers and businesses back on a path to sustainable prosperity," he said in a statement (see Puzder's blog).
Puzder’s withdrawal will likely affect execution of Trump’s order to review the fiduciary rule. Several sources told BenefitsPRO on record last week that a review couldn’t be done without a sitting Labor head.
Unnamed White House sources had told CNN that Puzder’s nomination is “beyond repair.”
Today, senior Republican lawmakers had called on the Trump administration to withdraw Puzder’s nomination, according to reporting from CNN, which said at least four Republican Senators, and as many as 12, would not vote to confirm him Senate floor.
Earlier today, the Washington Post reported that Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY, the Senate majority leader, told White House staff that Puzder does not have the 50 votes needed to be confirmed in the Senate.
Four Republican members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee—Sens. Susan Collins, ME, Lisa Murkowski, AK, Tim Scott, S.C., and Johhny Isakson, GA.—had said they would wait until completion of Puzder’s confirmation hearing before offering their support. The HELP committee was scheduled to hold Puzder’s confirmation hearing at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-OH, and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the third ranking Senate Republican, were also hesitant to support Puzder before the completion of his hearing, according to the Washington Post.
Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which owns the Hardees and Carl’s Jr. franchises, has motivated considerable resistance from Labor-backed interest groups, which allege rampant abuse of the Fair Labor Standards Act and workplace discrimination laws at the fast-food restaurants under Puzder’s leadership.
Last week, Puzder revealed he had employed an undocumented worker as a housekeeper, a revelation that motivated one of several delays in his confirmation hearing.
And this week, a Missouri circuit court unsealed documents in the bitter 1988 divorce proceedings between Puzder and his ex-wife, Lisa Fierstein. Fierstein had alleged physical abuse, but has since recanted her allegations several times, most recently in a letter to HELP committee members last month.