HELP Committee Puts Off Solis’ Confirmation Vote

Posted February 10, 2009 at 11:29am

Amid lingering questions over her husband’s tax payments, Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) is unlikely to be confirmed as Labor secretary until after the Presidents Day recess. “We’re still in the process of collecting information on the tax lien issue,” said Craig Orfield, communications director to Health, Education, Labor and Pensions ranking member Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) Solis’ nomination has been moving at a slow pace since President Barack Obama first tapped her for the Labor Department job two months ago. In addition to GOP concerns over her positions on some controversial labor issues, Solis has faced scrutiny over her husband’s failure to pay his taxes on time. The committee postponed voting on her nomination last week after it was revealed that her husband paid about $6,400 to settle tax liens against his business that had been outstanding for as long as 16 years. Solis sat for her confirmation hearing on Jan. 8, and was met with skepticism from Republicans who were troubled by her affiliation with American Rights at Work, an advocacy group that supports legislation that would loosen labor organizing rules. While Republicans grimaced at her involvement with the organization, her confirmation seemed imminent until her husband’s tax problems became public. “There still some questions out there,” said committee member Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). “I don’t think she’s really answered them.” A Democratic committee aide could not be reached for comment, but Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) has maintained support for Solis’ nomination. Obama has named an acting secretary to fulfill the role while the four-term Congresswoman awaits her confirmation. The Senate Intelligence Committee is poised to vote Wednesday in favor of the nomination of Leon Panetta, a former Congressman and White House chief of staff, to serve as Central Intelligence Agency director.