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Morning Reads: Andy Puzder Won’t Be Secretary of Labor; Could Pruitt Fail to Win EPA Nod?

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Morning Reads: Andy Puzder Won't Be Secretary of Labor

Protesters rally against Secretary of Labor nominee Andrew Puzder outside of a Hardee's restaurant on February 13, 2017, in St Louis, Missouri. Yesterday, Puzder withdrew his nomination. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

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Time to find someone else –> Andy Puzder, the CEO of the CKE restaurant chains, which include Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, withdrew his nomination to serve as Trump’s secretary of labor yesterday. In the wake of his anti-worker employment practices, charges of past spousal abuse and employing an undocumented immigrant, David Dayen writes at The Nation that Puzder’s real sin, in the eyes of conservatives, was his support for immigration reform. A scathing article at the Breitbart site was followed by an editorial in National Review denouncing Puzder’s support for reform, giving both the base and party regulars the excuse they needed to back away. Dayen writes:

I’d like to say that Puzder’s reign of terror as CEO, marked by allegations of widespread labor violations, wage-fixing and millions of dollars in payouts to mistreated workers, turned the tide on his nomination. I’d like to think we live in a world where Republicans can be moved by fast-food workers protesting in the streets. I’d like to say that Puzder’s well-established views opposing the very laws the Labor Department oversees was a red flag for, after all, anti-labor Republicans. But I don’t think we live in that world.

There are at least four on deck to replace Puzder, Jennifer Jacobs and Josh Eidelson report for Bloomberg: “Potential candidates, according to a White House official, are former National Labor Relations Board members Peter Kirsanow and R. Alexander Acosta; Joseph Guzman, an assistant professor at Michigan State University; and Catherine Templeton, former head of the South Carolina labor department.”

Could Pruitt be in for the same? –> Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency — who built a career as an ally of  big oil by denouncing and suing the EPA — may also have trouble getting confirmed. For one, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is opposing him. “I have significant concerns that Mr. Pruitt has actively opposed and sued the EPA on numerous issues that are of great importance to the state of Maine, including mercury controls for coal-fired power plants and efforts to reduce cross-state air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” she told Maine Public Radio. “His actions leave me with considerable doubts about whether his vision for the EPA is consistent with the agency’s critical mission to protect human health and the environment.”

At our site, Bill Moyers and Gail Ablow write that Pruitt is witholding documents that may further detail his cozy ties with the fossil fuels industry.

Trump’s newest hire? –> Stephen Feinberg, head of the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, is reportedly being considered for a job that seems a curious fit, given his career in finance: assessing US intelligence agencies. This potential new hire “has met fierce resistance among intelligence officials already on edge because of the criticism the intelligence community has received from Mr. Trump during the campaign and since he became president,” James Risen and Matthew Rosenberg report for The New York Times. “… Mr. Feinberg’s only experience with national security matters is his firm’s stakes in a private security company and two gun makers,” but Feinberg has “close ties” with Steve Bannon and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner.

One state or two? –> When asked for his preferred solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump said at a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday. “I’m very happy with the one both parties like. I can live with either one.” Is this a policy change? No one is quite sure. “The main reason the one-state solution is so controversial is the challenge of creating a secular, democratic polity given the existing tensions between Jews and Arabs,” Jeet Heer writes for The New Republic. “It’s not at all clear though that Trump realizes that — or indeed has any idea about the differences between a one-state and two-state solution.”

At the same press conference, when asked about rising anti-Semitism in America, Trump chose instead to brag about his Electoral College victory. He did say that everyone in America can expect to experience a “lot of love” over the next four years, so we’ve got that going for us.

Climate change advances –> “A large research synthesis, published in one of the world’s most influential scientific journals, has detected a decline in the amount of dissolved oxygen in oceans around the world — a long-predicted result of climate change that could have severe consequences for marine organisms if it continues,” Chris Mooney reports for The Washington Post. Warming oceans have had lead to catastrophic localized effects, but this new study indicates a global trend that is yet another warning sign that climate change is no longer a future threat. It’s happening, rapidly and now.

The White House’s comment line is back open –> You can use it to give Donald Trump a telephonic piece of your mind. (202) 456-1111. Operators are standing by!

Morning Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship.



We produce this news digest every weekday. You can sign up to receive these updates as an email newsletter each morning.