Yesterday my friend and colleague Ari Berman sent me a link to an Atlantic post by Marc Ambinder detailing GOP plans to hold up the confirmation of Labor Secretary-designate Hilda Solis, probably President Obama’s most progressive cabinet pick.
Then, today I received a mailing from the Center for American Progress elaborating on efforts by Senate Republicans to block the widely praised US representative from California for her progressive views supporting American workers. “This is just harassment,” the report quotes Scott Lilly, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “I haven’t seen anything that has been raised that looks like a truly substantive question about whether President Obama should have her serve him as labor secretary.”
The real problem for her opponents is that under Solis, the Department of Labor would once again defend the rights of workers after eight years of repealing, reducing and blatantly ignoring workplace laws and regulations. As a state senator, Solis authored the first environmental justice law in the nation, and she has since said she is committed to creating green jobs. She also told the Senate that she would address the retirement security crisis; ensure that workplaces are safe, healthy, and fair; and protect workers from job discrimination.
After waiting 55 days since her nomination last December 19, Solis was planning to face a scheduled vote in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today but that was abruptly canceled this afternoon in the wake of a report saying that her husband yesterday paid about $6,400 to settle tax liens against his business — including liens that had been outstanding for as long as 16 years.
This new info has just come out but it appears that no one, including her GOP antagonists, is accusing Solis of anything improper with her taxes. Meanwhile, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told the Washington Post that ” We reviewed her tax returns, and her tax returns are in order. The [new] story denotes that her husband had some issues with paying a business tax, and obviously that tax is — should be paid. He’s — she’s not a partner in that business, Gibbs continued. “So we’re not going to penalize her for her husband’s business mistakes. Obviously, her husband, I think, has and should pay any taxes that he owes. “
No new date has been set for the hearing but those blocking Solis’ nomination will try to use this latest delay to their advantage.
Solis has been one of Congress’ strongest backers of the Employee Free Choice Act, serving as a co-sponsor of the measure in 2007, and her nomination is turning out to be an early proxy fight over the legislation itself.
Given that conservatives are going all out to block Solis’s appointment, and the fierce and effective right-wing effort to push back the stimulus package, it’s crucial that your elected reps hear how many Americans support President Obama’s pick for labor. Click here for contact info and ask your elected reps to take a stand on the Solis nomination, and by extension, the rights of working men and women throughout their state.