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House Education and Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) subpoenaed acting Labor Secretary Julie Su on Tuesday, saying Su stonewalled requests for information about a taxpayer-funded event that may have served as “political promotion” before last year’s midterm elections.
Foxx, 80, compelled Su to hand over any documents related to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) summit that was hosted in the lead-up to Election Day last year and may have amounted to a political “pep rally” for President Biden and other Democrats, according to a copy of the subpoena exclusively obtained by The Post.
The House panel had sought the records four times since October 2022 — but the acting labor secretary and her predecessor, Marty Walsh, had ignored every request.
“The fact that the Committee must issue a subpoena to compel the agency to do its job and be forthcoming is outrageous,” Foxx told The Post in a statement.
“That kind of behavior may fly in the Biden administration but not here. Every taxpayer dollar must be accounted for and used appropriately, and we will not rest until our questions are sufficiently answered.”
In a cover letter accompanying the subpoena, Foxx told Su her committee was investigating whether the Department of Labor had engaged in “inappropriate, wasteful, or self-aggrandizing activities.”
“The Committee is interested in determining whether taxpayer resources were expended to implement the Occupational Safety and Health Act and other statutes, or whether they were used for political promotion,” she wrote.
Foxx and former Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee ranking member Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) had previously expressed concern to Walsh in an Oct. 5, 2022, letter that the OSHA summit excluded employer groups and celebrated union officials and other political allies of the Biden administration.
Follow-up letters were sent on Feb. 16, 2023, and Oct. 23, 2023, while Foxx also told OSHA Assistant Secretary Douglas Parker during a September congressional hearing that she wanted answers about the event.
Assistant Secretary of Labor Liz Watson sent several letters in response to the GOP-led committee’s requests, but Foxx in her cover letter said each missive gave “incomplete” information.
The agency’s most recent response, dated Nov. 14, did not disclose outside participants at the summit, detail any remarks given by Labor Department officials or provide documents about general legal and ethics advice, all of which had been requested.
“The Summit was held at the Frances Perkins Building in Washington, D.C., and operated pursuant to then-applicable guidance for federal agencies related to COVID-19 prevention,” the letter read, according to a copy reviewed by The Post.
“The event complied with all applicable legal restrictions imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Government in Sunshine Act of 1976, the Federal Advisory Committee Act, and the Hatch Political Activity Act.”
According to a Labor Department readout, the summit convened “workers, union representatives and labor organizers from a range of industries to discuss the value of building relationships and collaborating on ideas to address workers’ concerns” over the course of three days.
The Labor Department has been asked to hand over all records about the event by Dec. 6.
Su has yet to receive a Senate confirmation vote for her labor secretary role after Walsh resigned in February to head up the National Hockey League Players’ Association.
The eight-month stretch is the longest period a Cabinet-level official has ever served without a confirmation vote when the same party has controlled both the Senate and White House.
Acting secretaries are supposed to serve no more than 210 days under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, but Su has been able to fill her position apparently “in perpetuity,” according to Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who replaced Burr as the top Republican on the Senate HELP Committee.
Cassidy wrote a letter to Biden in June, saying the president should withdraw Su’s nomination if she cannot receive approval in the upper chamber.
In September, the Government Accountability Office issued a report in response to a letter from Foxx asking about the legal authority and time limits of Su’s acting labor secretary role.
The report found that Su was “lawfully serving as the Acting Secretary” and “that the Vacancies Act’s time limitations on acting service do not apply” to her.
The Labor Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.