After facing repeated delays and opposition from Republican members of Congress, Rep. Hilda Solis was finally confirmed as President Barack Obama's Secretary of Labor on Tuesday, making her the first Latina to ever hold the position. The Washington Post reports that U.S. Senate voted to confirm Solis by a margin of 80-17, following an assurance by Republican congressional leaders that they would no longer filibuster a vote.
Solis, a Mexican and Nicaraguan-American with a long record of pro-labor advocacy and green job development, was nominated to President Obama's Cabinet two months ago, but her confirmation hearings stalled when Committee Republican leaders found her unresponsive to their concerns about her union ties, and again when it was discovered that her husband, Sam Sayad, had recently paid $6,4000 to settle tax liens for his business.
Senior Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy, who leads the Committe on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in Congress, hailed Solis's confirmation upon hearing the news. "America's working men and women will be fortunate to have someone of Hilda's tremendous talents leading the Department of Labor. She knows the huge challenges facing workers and their families, and she has the experience and dedication needed for this vital position."
Added Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, "That a child of immigrants who went to a public university could now be a member of the president's Cabinet speaks incredibly highly of our country."