Government

Report: Abby Finkenauer said to be under consideration for Biden Cabinet

Former Vice President Joe Biden (second from right) raises arms with (from left:) gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell,
Former Vice President Joe Biden (second from right) raises arms with (from left:) gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell, running mate Rita Hart and 1st Congressional District candidate Abby Finkenauer at the Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, who has personal and political connections to President-elect Joe Biden, is being considered for secretary of labor in his administration, according to a report by the Reuters news service.

Finkenauer, 31, of Cedar Rapids, who lost her bid for a second term representing northeast Iowa’s 1st Congressional District to Republican Ashley Hinson of Marion, is among several under consideration to head the department, according to Reuters, which cited three sources it did not identify.

Without confirming that she is under consideration for the labor post, a spokesman for Finkenauer said she has known Biden “for more than a decade and trusts his leadership for working-class families.”

The secretary of labor oversees a budget of $11 billion in discretionary spending authority with additional mandatory funding, and 15,338 full-time equivalent employees.

Reuters is reporting that people familiar with deliberations said Finkenauer is among at least five names under consideration. They asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to discuss Biden’s search process.

Finkenauer was introduced to then-Sen. Biden by her firefighter grandfather in 2007. In the 2008 Iowa caucus campaign, she was Biden’s Iowa state volunteer coordinator. When she challenged U.S. Rep. Rod Blum in 2018, Biden headlined an October campaign rally in Cedar Rapids to endorse her. In 2020, she endorsed and campaigned for Biden, who finished fourth in the caucuses.

Among others reportedly being considered for the Department of Labor post are former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a former president of the laborers union that represents construction workers; Michigan Rep. Andy Levin, a former union organizer; and California Labor Secretary Julie Su.

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Sources told Reuters that Finkenauer is being considered for other posts in the Biden administration. A spokesman for Biden’s transition declined to comment.

During her four years in the Iowa Legislature and two years in Congress, Finkenauer’s priority has been “fighting for worker protections, protecting the right to organize and advocating for made-in-America and fair-wage provisions as well as equal pay,” said spokesman Jason Noble.

At both the state and federal level, Finkenauer campaigned in union halls and highlighted her father’s work as a union pipefitter-welder, and pushed for “Buy American” policies and wage standards for workers on projects utilizing federal funds.

Now she is focused on completing her term while “pressing for additional action on pandemic relief that protects workers and helps families, small businesses and communities,” Noble said.

She is a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Small Business Committee and its subcommittee on Innovation and Workforce Development, and a member of the Blue Collar Caucus.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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