Ranking Member Burr Questions Unprecedented Firings, Partisan Actions and Qualifications of Biden Labor Nominees

April 29, 2021

Today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held its nomination hearing for Jennifer Abruzzo to serve as General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and Seema Nanda to serve as Solicitor for the Department of Labor.

In his prepared opening remarks, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) criticized the Biden Administration for its abrupt and unprecedented firing of NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb. Additionally, Ranking Member Burr expressed concern over Ms. Abruzzo’s involvement in the Agency Review Team for Labor and questioned Ms. Nanda’s partisan agenda.

249 HELP Final

WATCH: Ranking Member Burr delivers opening remarks before the nomination hearing for Jennifer Abruzzo and Seema Nanda


“President Biden called for bipartisanship and unity in his inaugural address stating ‘this is our historic moment of crisis and challenge. And unity is the path forward.’  Yet, while he was reading his speech, his staff was engaged in unprecedented firings of government officials…

“One of those firings during the President’s call for unity was the removal of NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb. This was the first time a newly elected President has ever fired the NLRB General Counsel, a Senate-confirmed position that under the National Labor Relations Act serves a four-year term.

“Congress set a specific term for the General Counsel to provide integrity and independence to the position.

“We need both independence and integrity in the General Counsel’s office, which we had with Peter Robb until he was abruptly fired by White House staff while the President was still standing on the Capitol balcony calling for unity…

“President Biden’s actions not only harm the independence of the Board and the General Counsel, but this is an aggressive and unnecessary partisan escalation.

“So, while President Biden was reading pretty words about unity, his politically motivated staff escalated the unending partisan war, and as a result workers and business will suffer.

“I’d say, ‘Say it ain’t so, Joe,’ but unfortunately we have the nomination before us, so I know it is so.

“Ms. Abruzzo says she wasn’t involved in the firing, but that’s frankly a little hard to believe as she was heavily involved in the Agency Review Team for Labor, which covered the NLRB.

“I can’t imagine this firing was a surprise to her.

“Ms. Abruzzo’s fingerprints are on many of the NLRB’s most radical decisions and some of the Administration’s most partisan post-election labor moves. 

“If confirmed, she will come in with a dark cloud over her head.

“Turning to Seema Nanda, the solicitor of the Department of Labor should be someone with balance, without an ideological agenda. But Ms. Nanda is a highly partisan individual. 

“While she has Department experience, it was under Tom Perez who was himself a radical partisan. Ms. Nanda followed Mr. Perez to the DNC where she was his top executive in charge of fundraising.

“I find it hard to believe that the American people want labor laws enforced by someone whose job it was to raise money for the Democratic Party.

“She has used her time at the DNC to make a series of inflammatory, aggressive, and narrow-minded tweets and re-tweets about and against Republicans.

“Ms. Nanda has accused Republican Senators of wanting to ‘break’ the government when it was Democrats who were ruthlessly filibustering much needed aid for COVID-19 last year…

“I’m sure she’ll offer some form of an apology, but I suspect that she’s simply sorry she got caught.

“But such rhetoric is in sharp contrast to the bipartisanship the President promised as late as last night.

“Ms. Nanda seems to view employers not as job creators but as cartoonish evildoers set upon disadvantaging and harming the American worker.

“I fear her confirmation would lead to a partisan assault against employers, the great majority of whom are eager to comply with their regulatory obligations and keep their workers safe.

“Ms. Nanda’s zero-sum mentality of American labor-management relations – that in order for the worker to gain the employer must suffer – is an out-of-the-mainstream view that has no place in American government.

“I welcome this hearing as an opportunity to understand exactly what this Administration and the Majority intends to attempt to impose on business and job creators in the coming months.

“Hopefully instead they will set aside their partisan, ideological agendas and instead work together to protect workers, create jobs, and grow our economy, not our government.

“Since the foundation of the American Federation of Labor, American union members, the actual workers – not their union bosses – have been engaged in a struggle against radical socialists who wish to seize control and repurpose the labor movement away from prioritizing the economy and creating jobs to pushing socialism where government reigns…

“That battle for the soul of labor continues today. 

“The labor of American workers drives our free-market economy and their demand for good jobs and fair wages helps our competitive spirit thrive, but some unions have instead become partisans masquerading as worker advocates. 

“Workers should be protected, and their rights to organize, and not to organize, should be respected under the law.

“But partisan legislation, like the poorly named PRO Act, masquerading as a pro-worker bill, is truly a dagger aimed at the heart of America’s free enterprise system.

“Our two nominees today have fine qualifications for their previous jobs – Ms. Abruzzo, as a union lawyer and Ms. Nanda, as a Democratic party activist, but they represent the wrong side of the struggle for the soul of the American worker. 

“It’s unclear to me that they will ever enjoy the confidence of anyone outside of the biased anti-business bubbles that fester in the fringes of the left, further undermining public confidence in the independent nature of the positions they seek to hold.”

To read Ranking Member Burr’s full prepared opening statement, click here.