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Business lobby defeats Biden labor nominee in Senate

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Business groups celebrated this week after the Senate rejected David Weil, President Biden’s pick to run the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division. 

The Senate failed to advance Weil’s nomination by a 47-53 vote on Wednesday night, with Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) and Mark Kelly (Ariz.) joining all Republicans in blocking Biden’s nominee. 

Weil is the first Biden nominee to fail on the floor. The defeat followed an aggressive lobbying campaign by the International Franchise Association (IFA) and other business groups, which said that Weil would implement rules that would crush the franchise model. 

Weil, who previously held the wage division post in the Obama administration from 2014 to 2017, issued rules to reclassify independent contractors as employees and attempted to hold corporations accountable for their franchisees’ labor practices during his previous tenure.

“IFA thanks Senators Sinema, Manchin, and Kelly and all 50 Republicans who stood up for local franchise businesses and workers across the country by voting against the nomination of David Weil tonight,” IFA President and CEO Matthew Haller said in a statement. 

Business groups, including the National Restaurant Association and National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, centered their lobbying efforts around the three moderate Democrats who ultimately sank Weil’s nomination. 

They warned that Weil would use his broad powers to bypass Congress and implement sections of the PRO Act, a sweeping pro-labor bill opposed by the business lobby that remains stalled in the Senate due to GOP opposition. 

Business groups were particularly concerned about measures to hold franchises such as McDonald’s and 7-Eleven responsible for actions taken by franchisees, and provisions to reclassify independent contractors as employees so that they can form a union. 

Weil, who is currently dean of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, has long complained that the franchise model allows corporate giants to dodge accountability and is a fierce critic of gig companies such as Uber and Lyft. 

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the chairwoman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in a statement that she was “incredibly disappointed to see Dr. Weil, an exceptionally qualified nominee with a long track record fighting to ensure workers get the wages they have earned, did not get the votes tonight to be confirmed.”

Tags Biden Biden nominees David Weil Joe Biden Joe Manchin Labor Department Patty Murray Senate

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