Vote on Solis Set for Tuesday

Posted February 20, 2009 at 6:09pm

The Senate is scheduled to take up the nomination of Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) to serve as Labor secretary Tuesday, a sign that the end of the lengthy confirmation process is near.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will have to collect 60 votes to overcome Republican objections to the nomination and move it to final passage by the end of the week. Reid filed the motion to invoke cloture before adjourning for the Presidents Day recess.

Solis’ nomination has the support of the Democratic caucus, but a handful of Republicans have criticized her affiliation with American Rights at Work, an advocacy group that supports legislation to loosen labor organizing rules.

The conservative organization Americans for Limited Government sent a letter to House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) last week, requesting the committee look into Solis’ involvement with the pro-labor group. The letter, signed by Executive Director William Wilson, also charges that Solis did not properly disclose her relationship with American Rights at Work on financial disclosure forms from 2004 to 2007.

Solis’ ties with the labor-funded group earlier stirred concern among some GOP members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which voted on Solis’ nomination only after she signed an affidavit on her work for the labor rights group. Additionally, the HELP Committee postponed acting on the nomination after learning that Solis’ husband paid about $6,400 to settle tax liens against his business that had been outstanding for up to 16 years. She cleared the HELP Committee on Feb. 11 on a voice vote, with two Senators opposing: Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

Democratic leaders and union groups such as Change to Win and the AFL-CIO maintain that Solis’ nomination will clear the full Senate this week.

“Tuesday’s vote is a clear sign that we’re moving forward,” said Chris Chafe, executive director of Change to Win.

Assuming Solis is confirmed, a special election will be held in the late spring to fill the Los Angeles-area House seat she has held since 2001.