Skip to content

Senator Richard Burr Underscores Importance of Skilled American Workforce, Reopening Economy

Today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held its nomination hearing for Mayor Marty Walsh to serve as the U.S. Secretary of Labor.

In his prepared opening remarks, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), the Committee’s top Republican, underscored the need for a skilled American workforce in an increasingly competitive and global economy. Ranking Member Burr also stressed the importance of reopening the economy and supporting policies that strengthen job creation.

Senator Richard Burr Underscores Importance of Skilled American Workforce, Reopening Economy

WATCH: Ranking Member Burr’s opening remarks before the nomination hearing of Mayor Marty Walsh.

Key excerpts:

“Mayor Walsh, welcome. You’ve been a mayor, a state representative, and a union leader. You have the experience and qualifications to be considered for this position.

“I congratulate you on your nomination.

“The Department of Labor serves an immensely important role in our economy and in the lives of American workers. 

“Our nation can never afford to have a Labor Secretary that will ever be accused of being in cahoots with union bosses or beholden just to management. This is a job that requires a Labor Secretary who is willing to make a commitment to confront both, when necessary, for the protection of rank-and-file individual workers. 

“The people who work in Washington D.C. need to come in to serve all Americans.  From coast to coast and in the middle. Democrats and Republicans.  Management and labor.  No matter what pressure comes from the extremes of the President’s party, we cannot open the doors of the Labor Department up to people who want to make enemies of job creators. 

“…America is in the midst of immense domestic and international challenges.  We have health challenges with the coronavirus pandemic.  We have challenges with international competition with China and others.

“We should be able to work together to address these challenges.

“We need a skilled workforce.  We need to encourage more women and minorities into science technology engineering and math.  We need to ensure that management and labor never conspire to construct another unfunded pension plan.  We need to ensure America that government is here to assist – not hinder – the reopening of our economy.  The list goes on.

“Bipartisan solutions exist to all of these problems, and if you commit to working together in a bipartisan manner with us, I’m sure that the Senate will work with you.

“I am particularly concerned about the unprecedented firing of the NLRB’s general counsel. No president has ever taken such an action in recent memory, not Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, or others before them, and that is a disturbing signal from an Administration preaching the need for bipartisan unity.

“I would caution you and the Administration that might doesn’t always make right and that you should be mindful that lurches to the left will be bad for growing our economy and getting people back to work.

“As Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa pointed out, the political decision by President Biden to cancel the completion of construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, resulted in the loss of at least 8,000 union jobs and the loss of members' retirement and health benefits.  I hope that when confirmed you will be an adult voice in the room reigning in this type of politically motivated chaos.  Chaos in that specific example which cuts jobs and counter-productively increases greenhouse gas emissions.

“I plan to conduct rigorous oversight, especially of the response to COVID-19, and will ask fair, but difficult and probing questions on the decisions you make and the way the agency operates. I will expect honest, complete, and timely answers. I hope you can commit to working with me on that.

“I expect by the end of this hearing I will be able to support your nomination and encourage my colleagues to support you as well and I look forward to working with you.”

To read Ranking Member Burr’s full opening statement at today’s nomination hearing, click here.