West Virginia Democratic senator Joe Manchin will not support President Biden's controversial nominee to lead the Labor Department, Julie Su.
The "no" vote significantly narrows the odds that Su will be confirmed to the position. Manchin said he is concerned about Su's ideological biases and her ability to compromise.
“While her credentials and qualifications are impressive, I have genuine concerns that Julie Su’s more progressive background prevents her from doing this and for that reason I cannot support her nomination to serve as Secretary of Labor,” Manchin said.
Su has been leading the Labor Department without Senate confirmation since March, when she was tapped to replace Marty Walsh, who now leads the National Hockey League players' union.
Republicans have criticized Su for allowing $31 billion in unemployment insurance fraud during COVID when she was labor secretary of California.
My statement on my decision to oppose the nomination of Julie Su to serve as U.S. Secretary of Labor: pic.twitter.com/6utK6u0J78
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) July 13, 2023
The Democrats have a bare majority in the Senate, giving Manchin and a handful of moderates like Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema (who left the Dems last year) outsized say over advancing Biden's agenda.
Sinema has not publicly clarified where she stands on Su, and neither has Jon Tester (D-Mt.).
The White House rallied to Su's defense after the Manchin news, saying Su is "has proven herself time and time again when it comes to delivering for America's workers and our economy."
The statement mentioned Sinema, an acknowledgement that she is likely to oppose Su's nomination as well.
"The president's support for Acting Secretary Su is unwavering, and we hope Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema reconsider their position," the White House said.
A spokesperson for Sinema said she "doesn't preview her votes."
Manchin's ambivalence toward Biden's agenda was clear from the early stages of the Biden presidency, when Manchin sank Neera Tanden's nomination to be budget director.
Last year, Manchin was key to passing Biden's ambitious climate bill, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). But Manchin has moved to the right ahead of a potentially tough election in 2024, even threatening to repeal the IRA.
Manchin has not said whether he plans to seek re-election in his Trump-friendly state.