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Two Democrats block Biden's nominee for assistant secretary of the Labor Department

Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Bob Menéndez (D-NJ) joined all Republicans in voting against José Javier Rodríguez.


Joe Biden (Cordon Press)

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On Tuesday, Joe Biden tried to fill the position of Assistant Secretary of Employment and Training, a position within the Department of Labor, with José Javier Rodríguez. At 45 years old, Rodríguez has served in both chambers of the Florida Congress, first in the House of Representatives and then in the Senate, so he intended to take that experience directly to the Biden Administration, something that ultimately will not happen because his nomination fell apart in the Senate.

Initially nominated in October 2021, Rodríguez could not gather the necessary support at the time, so his nomination expired. This did not stop President Biden from nominating him again to the Senate in 2022, which took a long time before voting to confirm him or not.

The process culminated on Tuesday when two Democrats joined all Republicans in rejecting his nomination to the Department of Labor. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) rejected Rodríguez in the procedural vote.

The West Virginian, a potential presidential candidate, argued his decision on the nominee’s “political activism and lack of experience,” while his colleague did not express an opinion on the matter. The final vote was 51 against and 44 in favor, with Chuck Schumer changing his vote from positive to negative at the vote’s close so that Biden can nominate Rodríguez again.

This was not the first time that Senator Manchin rejected a nominee of the president, as he has done so in the past with Daniel Werfel, Dale Ho and the nominees in general to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

This Administration is determined to advance its radical climate agenda and has made it clear they are hellbent on doing everything in their power to regulate coal and gas-fueled power plants out of existence, no matter the cost to energy security and reliability. I fear that this Administration’s commitment to their extreme ideology overshadows their responsibility to ensure long-lasting energy and economic security, and I will oppose all EPA nominees until they halt their government overreach,” he wrote in a statement in May.