Andy Puzder, President Donald Trump's nominee for labor secretary, withdrew his nomination on Wednesday amid growing questions about his business record and scrutiny from senators on both sides of the aisle.The head of CKE Restaurants, which owns Hardee's and Carl's Jr., came under harsh criticism from Democrats and liberal groups for his opposition to raising the minimum wage, past controversial comments, and the racy ads his properties have used to promote the fast-food chains.
The question in recent weeks surrounding Donald Trump's cabinet nominees has been simple: Will Senate Republicans confirm literally anyone? Or more to the point, do standards for cabinet posts still exist in any meaningful way?For a while, the answers to those questions were not encouraging. Senate Republicans confirmed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos despite her overt hostility towards public schools and complete lack of familiarity with the basics of education policy. They confirmed HHS Secretary Tom Price despite his investment scandals, radical ideology, fringe associations, and repeated falsehoods during his confirmation hearing. They confirmed Treasury Secretary Steve Mnunchin after he failed to disclose millions of dollars he parked in the Cayman Islands.Is there any limit as to who GOP senators will support? Apparently, yes.
Puzder was less a Labor Secretary nominee and more a caricature of what a ridiculous cabinet selection looks like. Even by contemporary Republican standards, his overt hostility towards working people stood out as breathtaking.But what ultimately derailed his nomination was the lengthy list of controversies, including allegations of domestic abuse, hiring undocumented workers, and multiple unresolved controversies surrounding his own businesses. The fact that Puzder's confirmation hearings were delayed multiple times, in part because he seemed reluctant to provide the Senate with his background materials, didn't help.Unanimous Democratic opposition wouldn't be enough to stop Puzder -- who, as recently as Monday, enjoyed the enthusiastic backing of the Senate GOP leadership -- but enough Republican senators saw the Labor Secretary nominee as simply a bridge too far, even for them.At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, meanwhile, Donald Trump's White House has just been handed another embarrassing setback, driven in part by Trump World's latest failure to vet their nominees.