One of the final members of President Obama's Cabinet, his nominee for Labor Secretary, was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 80 to 17.
Hilda Solis will take over the reins of the Labor Department at a time of great challenges and optimism within the labor community. Her nomination represents a major victory for labor unions, which had hailed her candidacy as a boon for their legislative priorities -- specifically the Employee Free Choice Act. It also represents a win for the Obama administration, which had watched as Republicans in the Senate held up the nomination over opposition to Solis' position on EFCA and revelations that her husband had not paid taxes on a business he owned some time ago.
Democrats in the Senate have hinted that any consideration of EFCA would wait until Solis was at Labor and Al Franken was officially seated in Congress. One component of that equation came into place this afternoon, and union officials are elated.
"The confirmation of Rep. Hilda Solis is a huge victory: finally Americans will have a Secretary of Labor who represents working people, not wealthy CEOs," read a statement from AFL-CIO president John Sweeney. "It is also a historic moment as Rep. Solis becomes the first Hispanic Secretary of Labor."
And here is the statement from SEIU header Andy Stern: "Working men and women now have a Department of Labor they can count on to stand up and fight for them because Secretary Solis personally understands the challenges workers face in a global economy. For Secretary Solis this is not just another job, but the culmination of a lifetime of action serving as a voice for people who work."