Senate Committee Holds Confirmation Hearing for Acting Secretary of Labor Su

SECURE 2.0 implementation and missing participants were among the topics discussed.

Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su fielded questions from senators today at a confirmation hearing held by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. President Joe Biden named Su the acting secretary and nominated her to fill the cabinet post permanently after former secretary Marty Walsh resigned in February.

The HELP Committee has scheduled a meeting on April 26 to vote on her nomination.

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At Thursday’s hearing, Su briefly discussed the implementation of SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022 provisions in response to a question from Senator Patty Murray, D-Washington. Su said she looks forward to providing guidance in a “timely manner” and specifically highlighted the lost-and-found provision of the legislation, which requires the Department of Labor to create a database in which participants can be matched with old plans they may have lost or forgotten.

Su explained that the retirement savings lost and found will ensure that “Americans who have saved their entire lives for retirement are able to access those benefits when they retire. Sometimes people change jobs and they lose track or maybe they forget, and that’s why a program like that is so important.”

Prior to working for the DOL, Su was the California secretary of labor. Senator Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, the committee’s ranking Republican, and Senator Ted Budd, R-North Carolina, challenged her record there on several issues and noted that she helped implement a state law that put in place a three-part test that can make it harder for employers to classify workers as independent contractors.

Su responded that the DOL does not have the authority to issue a rule to that effect without permission from Congress. Murray also explained that the DOL’s position has been that the department does not have the authority to do this.

The DOL did propose in October 2022 to change the criteria determining independent contractor status in a manner that would make it easier for workers to be classified as employees. This proposal is not finalized and was not discussed during the hearing.