After a nearly two-month delay, the embattled nominee for the top post at the Dept. of Labor won Senate confirmation Feb. 24. The Senate voted 80-17 to confirm Hilda Solis, a Democrat from California, as Labor Secretary.
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said shortly after her confirmation, “America’s working men and women will be fortunate to have someone of Hilda’s tremendous talents leading the Dept. of Labor.”
Unions describe Solis as a strong ally and advocate for working families and say that she built a solidly pro-labor voting record while in the U.S. House of Representatives, and before that, in the California state legislature. Her signature achievement in the House of Representatives was the passage of a green jobs bill in 2007, which authorized up to $125 million for national and state job training programs to promote “green collar” jobs in construction and renewable energy development.
Construction employer groups have been reluctant to criticize Solis openly and point to her long-standing support for renewable energy projects and “green jobs” as positive.
But Solis ran into trouble during her confirmation hearing before the Senate labor committee. Several Republicans on the committee complained that she was evasive in answering questions about controversial topics like the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for unions to organize by eliminating the need for a secret ballot election process.
Ranking labor committee member Michael Enzi (R-Wy.) said just prior to the Feb. 11 committee vote that Solis had “errors and omissions” in the documents she filed with the committee. He also said he had had questions about her role as an unpaid treasurer for a pro-labor lobbying organization. But he added that a sworn affidavit testifying that Solis had no check-writing authority at the organization or any influence on campaign ads “goes a long way towards showing that no conflict of interest appears to have taken place.” He ultimately supported her nomination.