GOP Leaders Reportedly Pressed Trump To Withdraw Labor Secretary Pick

Activists protest against Labor Secretary nominee Andy Puzder in front of Sen. Marco Rubio's office Feb. 9 in Doral, Fla. Activists protest against Labor Secretary nominee Andy Puzder in front of Sen. Marco Rubio's office Feb. 9 in Doral, Fla. AP Photo/Alan Diaz

Update: Puzder withdrew his nomination on Wednesday afternoon and this story was updated.

CNN reported Wednesday that top Senate Republicans were pressing the White House to withdraw President Trump’s controversial nominee to run the Labor Department. The selection of Andrew Puzder, chief executive of the company that runs the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fast food restaurant chains, drew fierce opposition from labor groups, women’s organizations, Democrats and even some conservatives. By mid-afternoon, Puzder had withdrawn his nomination, the Washington Post reported.   

Puzder needed at least 50 votes for Senate confirmation, and Republicans hold only 52 seats. According to CNN, “There are four firm Republican no votes and possibly up to 12.” With Democrats united against the nominee, Puzder’s confirmation was doomed.

Puzder was controversial for a number of reasons. He opposed an increase in the minimum wage, and in a March 2016 interview with Business Insider ("Fast-food CEO says he's investing in machines because the government is making it difficult to afford employees"), he lauded the virtues of automation, raising questions about how he would lead the department responsible for protecting U.S. workers.

He also generated backlash over sexist statements and advertisements that feature bikini-clad models eating burgers in sexually-suggestive poses. And then there were the allegations of abuse his ex-wife made on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show in 1990.

Even the conservative National Review objected to Puzder’s nomination—on the grounds that he favors comprehensive immigration reform. According to the magazine, he’s “one of the most high-profile advocates of precisely the approach to immigration policy that Donald Trump opposed during his campaign.”

Puzder’s confirmation hearing had been postponed several times, in part because he had not filled out required financial and ethics forms.

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