The Senate voted 80-17 on Tuesday to confirm Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) as Labor secretary.
With unemployment at 7.6 percent, with 3 million jobs lost over the last year, [workers] need an advocate in the new administration who will stand up for them, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said in a floor statement just before the vote.
Despite the overwhelming tally, Solis confirmation was drawn out for weeks because of her affiliation with a pro-labor advocacy group and her support for legislation that would loosen labor-organizing rules. Her nomination also hit some hiccups after it was revealed that her husband paid $6,400 to settle tax liens against his business that had been outstanding for 16 years.
President [Barack] Obama promised that his cabinet would be held to the highest standards, yet Hilda Solis skirted ethics rules to work for a liberal activist group and failed to be forthcoming on her tax problems, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said in a statement.
American workers deserve a labor secretary who will fight for their right to a secret ballot, but Congresswoman Solis has a long history opposing this basic American right, DeMint added. Instead, she has worked closely with union bosses to deny worker rights. Her conduct is unacceptable and I cannot support her nomination.
Solis move to the Obama administration now sets off a special election for her Congressional seat. The race is expected to be scheduled for May 19.