BNA • Ben Penn

The effort to derail Andrew Puzder’s labor secretary confirmation could get a boost from new Republican opposition to President Donald Trump’s education nominee, but it’s still too early to draw close parallels.

Two moderate Republican Senators—Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine)—both said Feb. 1 that they will vote against Betsy DeVos for secretary of education. That raises the question of whether they might also cross the aisle to disapprove of Puzder at either his committee vote or, more likely, on the Senate floor.

Until Puzder submits his paperwork and testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, it’s difficult to predict whether a few GOP Senators would defect and vote against the fast-food executive. Still, increased vulnerability for DeVos signals that lobbyists on both sides of the issue may redouble efforts to focus on Collins, Murkowski and other centrist Senators in both parties. If DeVos were to be officially blocked, this could give more ammunition to the anti-Puzder movement.

“I think the reasons to be uncomfortable about Betsy DeVos and Andy Puzder are even more disparate than apples and oranges,” Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator at the National Employment Law Project, told Bloomberg BNA Feb. 1. “What today signals is that they are not going to be a rubber stamp for their party’s president, and then you can make of that what you will when it comes to other nominations.”

Conti, unions and Democrats argue Puzder is uniquely disqualified to run the Labor Department because workers at his own company allege to be victims of overtime violations, employment discrimination and unfair labor practices. Puzder is the chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants Inc., parent company of the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. brands.

Collins said Feb. 1 in remarks on the Senate floor that she planned to vote against DeVos because of concern’s about the nominee’s commitment to public schools.

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