Bloomberg Law
April 24, 2023, 9:23 AM

Punching In: DOL’s Su to Get Panel Vote Fresh Off Her Hearing

Diego Areas Munhoz
Diego Areas Munhoz
Bruce Rolfsen
Bruce Rolfsen

Monday morning musings for workplace watchers.

Su Markup Set|California Heat, Lead Rules

Diego Areas Munhoz: Labor secretary nominee Julie Su will face her first vote April 26 by members of the Senate’s labor panel.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will consider Su’s nomination less than a week after she was grilled by Republicans over her handling of independent contractors and unemployment insurance fraud during her tenure as California’s labor chief.

But the committee’s vote should be predictable compared to what could transpire if her nomination goes to the floor. The panel’s Democrats, who hold a one-vote advantage, haven’t signaled any reservations about her nomination. Barring one of those senators being absent that day, a committee vote advancing her nomination should be a breeze.

Su will likely face some difficulty with a full-chamber vote. All 49 Republicans are expected to oppose her, and she has yet to get the endorsement of key Democratic moderates, Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Jon Tester (Mont.), as well as Independent Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.).

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) unknown return to Washington further complicates Su’s confirmation. Without Feinstein, who has been recovering from shingles, a single Democratic defection could be enough to tank her nomination.

Manchin’s office told Bloomberg Law April 21 that the senator still hadn’t made a decision on Su. Shelley Moore Capito, the Republican senator from West Virginia, announced her opposition to Su a day after a series of business groups in the state sent both senators a letter asking them to vote no.

Tester and Angus King, a Maine Independent who also hasn’t yet endorsed Su, said last week they’d tune into Su’s hearing to see how she did. King said his meeting with Su had been “very good,” but refrained from making further comments before her testimony last week.

Julie Su, US secretary of labor nominee for President Joe Biden, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee nomination hearing in Washington, DC, on Thursday, April 20, 2023.
Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

Bruce Rolfsen: While the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a reputation for being slow to issue new rules, its California counterpart, Cal/OSHA, isn’t exactly in the express lane.

California’s proposed standard for protecting workers from indoor heat is set for a public hearing May 18 by the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, but the final rule likely won’t take effect until spring 2024, state officials said last week.

That’s because a potential future timeline means after the mid-May hearing, a 45-day comment period ends that same day, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health would have to address the comments with a written report. Then Cal/OSHA, likely in 2024, would issue a version of the rule that may include changes recommended by the comments, and take comments for an additional 15 days.

Next, there would be a second public hearing with the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board. If the board approves the standard, it would have to pass a review by the Office of Administrative Law before taking effect.

Cal/OSHA began developing an indoor heat standard in 2016 after state lawmakers passed a bill requiring a rule. The agency released a proposed standard in January 2019, but work stalled during the Covid-19 pandemic. The state’s outdoor heat rule took effect in 2005.

California’s proposal to enact the nation’s toughest rule limiting workers exposure to lead dust faces a similar trajectory.

The standards board held a hearing April 20, but the final rule may not be enacted until March 2024, officials said at the hearing last week.

The lead rulemaking began in 2011 when Cal/OSHA convened an advisory committee to proposes changes to the existing state lead rule. The draft rules that emerged from those sessions weren’t enacted.

The state legislature then in 2019 passed a bill calling for Cal/OSHA to present proposed rule changes to the standards board in 2020, but Covid-19 put completion of the rules on hold.

We’re punching out. Daily Labor Report subscribers, please check in for updates during the week, and feel free to reach out to us.

To contact the reporters on this story: Diego Areas Munhoz in Washington, D.C. at; Bruce Rolfsen in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Genevieve Douglas at; Martha Mueller Neff at

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