Senators vet Boston Mayor Walsh for Labor Secretary

Senators vet Boston Mayor Walsh for Labor Secretary
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Senators vetted Boston Mayor Marty WalshMarty WalshUnions struggle to secure wins under Biden New Boston Mayor Kim Janey: 'We cannot go back to normal' on racial equity Biden taps California workplace safety leader to head up OSHA MORE in a confirmation hearing on Thursday, pressing President Biden’s pick to lead the Labor Department on a number of issues.

Walsh, a former union leader, would be taking over the agency during a crucial time as the safety of front-line workers has been put in the spotlight due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In opening remarks at his hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Walsh said that workers right now are critical to the future of the economy, as well as for communities and families.


“We are depending on working men and women all across this country to keep us going — as they always have done. They are depending on us. I believe we must act with urgency to meet this moment to strengthen and empower our workforce as we rebuild,” he said.

Committee Chairwoman Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayHouse passes bill to combat gender pay gap Schumer kicks into reelection mode Democrats target Trump methane rule with Congressional Review Act MORE (D-Wash.) noted to kick off the hearing that the coronavirus has disproportionately impacted workers of color and women.

“If I didn’t feel that I could make a difference and the president felt that I couldn’t make a difference, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here right now,” Walsh said.

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrSenate confirms SEC chief Gensler to full five-year term A proposal to tackle congressional inside trading: Invest in the US Former Gov. Pat McCrory enters GOP Senate race in North Carolina MORE (N.C.), the top Republican on the panel, said that he looks forward to the committee expediting Walsh’s confirmation. Senate confirmation would require a simple majority.

Walsh was introduced by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenLawmakers react to guilty verdict in Chauvin murder trial: 'Our work is far from done' World passes 3 million coronavirus deaths Poll: 56 percent say wealth tax is part of solution to inequality MORE (D-Mass.), his home state senator.

Walsh has been mayor of Boston since 2014 and before that was a member of the Massachusetts State House since 1997. He was also previously at the helm of the Boston Building and Construction Trades Council and his nomination has received broad support from mayor unions.


“I’ve got a soft spot for Irish Catholic mayors who grew up in pro-union households,” Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineSenators in the dark on parliamentarian's decision Progressives put Democrats on defense Senators reintroduce bill to block NATO withdrawal MORE (D-Va.) quipped, himself a former mayor of Richmond, Va.

Walsh told Sen. Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallCruz no longer wearing mask in Capitol The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring Anti-Asian hate crimes bill overcomes first Senate hurdle MORE (R-Kan.) “good luck on Sunday” following the senator’s questions. The Kansas City Chiefs play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where former New England Patriot Tom Brady plays, in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Walsh was pressed by Republicans on Biden’s executive order revoking a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

“I hope that when confirmed, you’ll be an adult voice in the room reining in this type of politically motivated chaos,” Burr said. 

Walsh said that the jobs lost from the Keystone XL pipeline will be “more than made up” through new plans and proposals throughout the Biden administration.

Burr also called Biden’s move to fire the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) general counsel, who was a Trump appointee, after he refused to resign “disturbing.”

“It’s a disturbing signal from an administration preaching the need for bipartisan unity,” Burr said.

Walsh was also pressed on his support for raising the federal minimum wage to $15. The Raise the Wage Act, spearheaded by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersNewsmax host: Jury decided to 'sacrifice' Chauvin to the mob Lawmakers react to guilty verdict in Chauvin murder trial: 'Our work is far from done' Senate confirms SEC chief Gensler to full five-year term MORE (I-Vt.), was introduced last week.

Sanders said at the hearing that tens of millions of workers in the country are working at starvation wages and asked Walsh for his support. 

“I definitely support raising the minimum wage,” Walsh said. 

“Good,” Sanders said. 

Walsh later stressed that Biden wants bipartisan support for increasing the minimum wage when asked by Republican senators about his stance on the issue. 

The Sanders bill would also phase out the tipped minimum wage for restaurant service workers, a proposal Biden has made. Walsh told Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunTim Scott: 'No question' Floyd jury reached 'the right verdict' Overnight Energy: Biden reportedly will pledge to halve US emissions by 2030 | Ocasio-Cortez, Markey reintroduce Green New Deal resolution 15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban MORE (R-Ind.) that he is open to discussions to come up with resolutions on how to deal with tipped wages and to support restaurant workers.

The committee will hold a vote on whether to advance Walsh’s nomination to the full Senate on Feb. 11.