Washington — A House committee has approved legislation that would set a limit on how long an acting secretary can lead the Department of Labor.
Advanced by the House Education and the Workforce Committee with a 23-19 vote on Sept. 14, the Department of Labor Succession Act (H.R. 4957) would amend the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998. Under the law, the deputy labor secretary is to “perform the duties of the secretary until a successor is appointed.”
The move would limit the tenure of an acting secretary to seven months (210 days) from when a vacancy occurs or as long as a pending nomination is before the Senate. The law permits an additional seven months from the point when “the first nomination” is rejected by the Senate, withdrawn by the president or returned to the president (usually after the end of a calendar year).
Julie Su assumed the role of acting secretary in March, when then-Labor Secretary Marty Walsh stepped down to become the executive director of the National Hockey League Players’ Association. That same month, President Joe Biden nominated Su to succeed Walsh. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved her nomination with an 11-10 party-line vote on April 26.
A Senate confirmation of Su’s nomination, however, appears to be at an impasse after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) in July announced his opposition.
If Su’s nomination isn’t confirmed by Jan. 1, it would be returned to the White House. The president would have to resubmit her nomination, and Su would again need approval from the Senate HELP Committee.