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.

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Cabinet nominee withdrawals through the years
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Cabinet nominee withdrawals through the years

Judd Gregg, nominated by President Obama

Nominated by President Obama in 2009, Gregg withdrew his name for consideration over disagreement in economic ideology with the president.

(Photo via REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Zoe Baird, nominated by President Clinton

Nominated by President Clinton, Baird withdrew her name from consideration when the “Nannygate” scandal erupted over her hiring undocumented workers.

(Photo by Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Linda Chavez, nominated by President George W. Bush

Nominated by President George W. Bush, Chavez withdrew from consideration in 2001 when allegations were published over her employing an undocumented immigrant more than 10 years prior.

(Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Bill Richardson, nominated by President Obama

President Obama chose former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson as his first secretary of commerce pick in 2008. He then withdrew his name, though, because of a federal grand jury investigation into allegations of pay-to-play activities.

(Photo credit JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Tom Daschle, nominated by President Obama

The former Senate majority leader was appointed by President Obama to serve as secretary of Health and Human Services, but Daschle withdrew when reports of his over $140,000 in unpaid taxes surfaced.

(Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Bernard Kerik, nominated by President George W. Bush

Kerik was the 43rd president's 2004 pick for secretary of homeland security. Kerik withdrew his nomination after acknowledging that he unknowingly hired an undocumented worker as a nanny.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Kimba Wood, nominated by President Clinton

Wood was President Clinton's second choice for Attorney General. She also hired an undocumented worker, though, and later withdrew her consideration.

(Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Bobby Ray Inman, nominated by President Clinton

Inman was selected as Clinton's pick for secretary of defense in 1993. He withdrew his nomination when he accused a New York Times columnist of recruiting Senator Bob Dole to attack him -- something Dole denied.

(Photo by Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images)

Anthony Lake, nominated by President Clinton

President Clinton nominated Anthony Lake to become Director of Central Intelligence in 1996. He withdrew in March of 1997 after contentious questioning by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

(Photo by Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity)
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"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.

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What do the Cabinet positions do anyway?
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What do the Cabinet positions do anyway?

Vice President of the United States

Originally, the Vice President's main job was to preside over the Senate. But beginning in the 1970s, the Vice President's powers grew. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, for example, is considered to have had a large role in shaping George W. Bush's foreign policy. Former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will take over the office from Joe Biden when Trump is inaugurated in January.

Pictured: Vice President-elect Mike Pence

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Secretary of State

The secretary of state serves as the President's main adviser on foreign policy issues, negotiates treaties and represents the U.S. at the United Nations. Trump has yet to say who will replace current Secretary of State John Kerry in his administration, but former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Sen. Bob Corker and retired General and former CIA Director David Petraeus are reportedly under consideration, though the New York Times reported Sunday that Trump is still interviewing candidates, so that list may still grow.

Pictured: Current Secretary of State John Kerry

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Secretary of the Treasury

The secretary of the treasury is in charge of the administration's financial and economic policies. Trump named hedge fund manager and movie financier Steven Mnuchin as his replacement for current Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

Pictured: Trump's pick, Steven Mnuchin

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Secretary of Defense

The secretary of defense is the president's adviser on military and international security policy. James "Mad Dog" Mattis is Trump's pick to fill the role, which is currently occupied by Ash Carter.

Pictured: Trump's pick, James Mattis

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

United States Attorney General

Dubbed the "pople's lawyer," the attorney general helms the United States Department of Justice and advises the president on legal matters. The position is currently held by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Trump has picked Sen. Jeff Sessions to fill the role. 

Pictured: Trump's pick, Jeff Sessions

(Photo credit ZACH GIBSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of the Interior

Known to some as the "department of everything else," the DOI "protects America's natural resources and heritage, honors our cultures and tribal communities and supplies the energy to power our future" and is currently headed by Secretary Sally Jewell. Trump has yet to name his pick, but the drilling advocates on his short list — which apparently includes former Vice-presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — have environmental activists concerned. 

Pictured: Current Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell

(Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

Secretary of Agriculture

Thomas J. Vilsack currently heads the United States Department of Agriculture, which oversees policies relating to food, agriculture and rural development. No word yet on who will fill that role in Trump's administration, but one of the names Trump has mentioned is Sid Miller, the Texas agriculture commissioner and Trump adviser who once called Hillary Clinton a "cunt" on Twitter.

Pictured: Current Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Secretary of Commerce

As the department's mission statement puts it: "The Secretary of Commerce serves as the voice of U.S. business within the President's Cabinet." Businesswoman Penny Pritzker currently serves in the role, for which Trump has tapped billionaire investor and longtime Trump business associate Wilbur Ross Jr.

Pictured: Trump's pick, Wilbur Ross Jr.

(Photo by Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Secretary of Labor

Thomas E. Perez is the current United States Secretary of Labor and is tasked with overseeing the welfare of U.S. workers. Trump has yet to officially announce his choice, but reports indicate that he is considering Obama-critic Andrew Puzder, the CEO of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's parent company CKE Restaurants.

Pictured: Current Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez

(Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

Secretary of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services oversees all health-related policy. Trump has tapped Rep. Tom Price, a staunch opponent of the Affordable Care Act, to replace current Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell.

Pictured: Trump's pick, Tom Price

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Earlier this week, Trump announced the nomination of one of his former Republican presidential primary opponents, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, despite his lack of formal qualifications. In that role, he will take over for Julian Castro as the president's adviser on issues relating to housing and cities, including homelessness, sustainability and equal opportunity. 

Pictured: Trump's pick, Ben Carson

(Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Secretary of Transportation

The Department of Transportation secretary became an official Cabinet post in 1967. Trump has chosen former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao to head the department — which is currently under the guidance of Secretary Anthony Foxx — in what some have described as one of Trump's more conventional picks.

Pictured: Trump's pick, Elaine Chao

(Photo credit EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of Energy

According to its mission statement, the Energy Department seeks to "ensure America's security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions." The current secretary of energy is Ernest Moniz; Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative democrat, is reportedly under consideration for the role in Trump's administration.

Pictured: Current Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Secretary of Education

Trump's selection of Betsy DeVos, a republican donor and so-called "school choice" advocate, has been met with significant criticism. DeVos, who would be Trump's primary voice on educational policy, is considered the face of a struggling school system in her native Michigan. The department is currently run by Secretary John King. 

Pictured: Trump's pick, Betsy DeVos

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Trump has promised to "fix" the VA, which is currently run by Secretary Robert McDonald. But some veterans advocates worry that the incoming Trump administration will gut the department, which is tasked with providing assistance to military veterans. Reports that Sarah Palin and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry are under consideration for the role add to concerns that the new administration will privatize the VA.

Pictured: Current Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald

(Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)

Secretary of Homeland Security

One of the central tenets of Trump's presidential campaign was immigration. His calls to build a wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, to conduct massive deportations of undocumented immigrants and to halt immigration from Muslim countries were among his signature tunes at campaign rallies. That potentially makes the head of the Department of Homeland Security, which was created in the wake of September 11th, one of the most significant roles in the Trump administration. The agency, which focuses on terrorism, national security and the enforcement of immigration laws, is currently headed by Secretary Jeh Johnson. Trump has yet to officially announce his secretary of homeland security pick, but Politico reported that top Trump aides have mentioned retired Marine General John Kelly as the top candidate. Far-right Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke is also reportedly under consideration

Pictured: Current Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson

(Photo via REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Cabinet-level positions

There are currently seven positions that are not considered to be an official part of the president's Cabinet, but that have Cabinet-level rankings. They are: the White House chief of staff, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, the United States Trade representative, the United States mission to the United Nations, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and the head of the Small Business Administration. 

On Nov. 13, Trump named Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus chief of staff.

Pictured: Trump's chief of staff Reince Priebus

(Photo credit JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

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