Labor secretary nominee Puzder expected to withdraw -reports


WASHINGTON, Feb 15 (Reuters) - U.S. Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder is expected to withdraw his nomination amid mounting concerns that not enough Senate Republicans would vote to confirm him, NBC News reported on Wednesday, citing a senior administration official.

The report came on the heels of CNN report that top U.S. Senate Republicans had asked the White House to withdraw his name from consideration.

Republicans control 52 of the chamber's 100 seats. If just three Republicans join with all 48 senators who caucus with the Democrats, his nomination would be defeated.

Reuters could not immediately confirm the reports.

"These are rumors and we've heard this tune before," said George Thompson, a spokesman for Puzder.

At least seven Republican senators, including Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have declined to publicly back Puzder in advance of his confirmation hearing, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. EST (1400 GMT) on Thursday.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, told CNN on Wednesday he knew of at least six Republicans "who are gravely concerned about this nomination" and are "considering voting against it."

As of 2 p.m. EST Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which is slated to vet his nomination, had not received his testimony for the hearing, according to an aide.

Typically, such testimony is submitted 24 hours prior to the hearing's start time.

Puzder is chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants Inc, which primarily franchises fast-food chains including Hardee's and Carl's Jr.

The progressive left is actively campaigning against Puzder amid concerns about his views on overtime and the minimum wage and claims by some CKE workers who say they are victims of wage theft or victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.

In recent weeks other issues have surfaced that could make some Republicans uncomfortable.

Earlier this month, Puzder admitted he and his wife had employed an undocumented person as a housekeeper and had to pay back taxes as a result.

On Wednesday, conservative magazine National Review published an op-ed that urged the Senate to vote against Puzder because of his support for guest worker visa programs and other policies that it claims undercut American workers in favor of foreign ones.