Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said Wednesday that he would accept the job of Labor secretary if President-elect Joe Biden asked him to join his Cabinet.
“If I had a portfolio that allowed me to stand up and fight for working families, would I do it?” Sanders told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “Yes, I would.”
Asked if it is true that he is eying the position of Labor secretary, Sanders said, “What’s true is I want to do everything I can to protect the working families of this country who are under tremendous duress right now.”
“Whether that’s in the Senate, whether that’s in the Biden administration, who knows,” Sanders added. “Well, let’s see how that unfolds.”
CNN reported Tuesday that Sanders has started to ramp up a campaign to become Labor secretary in Biden’s Cabinet and is seeking the support of top labor leaders. Sanders’ push comes amid intensified jockeying over the powerful Cabinet position from inside the labor movement.
A longtime senior labor leader told CNN on Tuesday that Sanders has personally called union chiefs asking for their backing, but that his overtures have been met with mixed reactions. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who is among those Sanders has contacted, favors Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for the job, the senior labor leader said. Meanwhile, Michigan Rep. Andy Levin, a Democrat who is a popular progressive, has also built a base of support among union leadership, including the Communications Workers of America, the senior labor leader said.
In public statements and in an interview with CNN before the election, Sanders spoke about his desire to lead a push from inside the Senate to send an ambitious suite of progressive legislation to Biden’s desk.
But those plans may have been complicated by the uncertainty surrounding control of the body, after a disappointing election night for Democratic Senate challengers. The caucus will likely need to win both of the January run-off contests in Georgia now to gain a majority.
Biden’s Cabinet decisions come as President Donald Trump has yet to concede despite CNN and other networks projecting Biden’s win. The administration also has so far refused to sign off on a key document needed to formally begin Biden’s transition process, while Trump continues to baselessly claim election fraud.