4 GOP senators on the fence over Puzder for labor secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) — Four Republicans on the Senate committee considering President Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of labor aren't saying publicly if they will vote for him.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and three other senators — Tim Scott of South Carolina, Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have said they won't decide how to vote on fast-food executive Andrew Puzder's nomination until after his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday.

That's fueled a battle on social media and other platforms, as Republicans arm up against Democrats and their allies after other bruising confirmation battles over Trump nominees.

Collins and Murkowski joined every Democrat in voting against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has privately vowed to move Puzder's nomination through despite questions about any potential conflicts of interests and other issues.

Meeting with reporters Monday, Collins mentioned that she's watched Puzder's ex-wife's appearance in disguise as a victim of domestic violence on Oprah Winfrey's talk show in the 1980s. The ex-wife, Lisa Fierstein, has recanted the abuse allegations against Puzder, made as part of their divorce proceedings. He has long denied the accusations, and in a Jan. 18 letter to the committee, she reiterated that "Andy is not and was not abusive or violent."

Still, Collins told reporters, "I have gone to view the Oprah Winfrey show for an hour on which his former wife appeared and I am reviewing the other information that has come to light."

It was the first time a Republican senator publicly acknowledged evaluating the domestic violence accusation.

Collins and the other three senators have said they are concerned about other issues facing Puzder, such as his acknowledgment that he employed a housekeeper who was not authorized to work in the U.S. but only paid her taxes after Trump nominated him Dec. 9.

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Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.

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