Biden’s Labor Department Nominee Fails to Advance in Senate After Democrats Vote With GOP

Katabella Roberts
By Katabella Roberts
November 29, 2023Congress
Biden’s Labor Department Nominee Fails to Advance in Senate After Democrats Vote With GOP
(Right) Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chair, presides over a hearing on battery technology in Washington on Sept. 22, 2022. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images); (Left) Sen. Robert Menendez arrives at a federal court to be indicted on corruption charges in Newark, N.J., on April 2, 2015. (Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

Two Democratic lawmakers joined with Republicans to vote against advancing President Joe Biden’s nominee to serve as assistant secretary of the Labor Department on Nov. 28.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) joined Republicans in a 44 to 51 vote that stalled the nomination of José Javier Rodriguez on the Senate floor. Four Democrats were absent from the vote.

Democrats only hold a slim 51–49 majority in the Senate, meaning they cannot afford two votes against the nomination.

A spokesperson for Mr. Manchin told Politico that the lawmaker voted against advancing Mr. Rodriguez’s nomination because “he has concerns about his political activism and lack of experience.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) switched his vote to “no” just before voting closed, a procedural move that will allow him to bring up Mr. Rodriguez for another vote, or to reconsider his nomination, in the future.

It is not clear if or when Mr. Schumer plans to do so although the move would still require either Mr. Manchin or Mr. Menendez to flip their “no” votes to “yes.” If that fails, Vice President Kamala Harris will be called in to cast her tie-breaking vote on the nomination.

Mr. Rodriguez was picked by President Biden to be the Labor Department’s assistant secretary for employment and training in July 2021.

The Employment and Training Administration “administers federal government job training and worker dislocation programs, federal grants to states for public employment service programs, and unemployment insurance benefits,” according to the Department of Labor’s website.

Its aim is to “contribute to the more efficient functioning of the U.S. labor market by providing high-quality job training, employment, labor market information, and income maintenance services primarily through state and local workforce development systems,” the website states.

Deadlock Over Vote

In a statement at the time, the White House said the labor lawyer and former Florida state legislator had represented unions, pension and benefit funds, and workers in various types of litigation during his time at the legal firm Sugarman & Susskind, PA in Miami, Florida, where he served as both a litigator and partner.

Mr. Rodriguez has also served on the faculty of South Florida law schools as an adjunct professor and adjunct clinical professor and in the Florida Senate for four years. He lost his reelection bid to a Republican challenger in 2020 by around 30 votes.

Prior to joining the Florida Senate, he had served for eight years in the Florida Legislature after being elected in 2012 to represent District 112 in the Florida House of Representatives.

The White House also touted Mr. Rodriguez’s “numerous awards and recognitions for his work as a community leader and as policymaker, particularly in the areas of employment and the environment.”

However, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee ultimately remained at a deadlock when it came to advancing his nomination that same year.

As a result, Mr. Rodriguez’s nomination expired, and President Biden was forced to return his nomination to the Senate at the start of the new Congress in January.

Tuesday’s vote marks the second time that one of President Biden’s Labor Department nominees has failed to pass through the floor.

Last year, Mr. Manchin and Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz), joined Republicans in opposing his nomination of David Weil as head of the department’s Wage and Hour Division.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.