(CNN) - Hilda Solis, recently confirmed as secretary of labor, was greeted Wednesday by a crowd of enthusiastic Labor Department employees who braved the cold to greet their new boss on her first day of work.
Solis was greeted as she stepped out of her car by interim acting Secretary of Labor Edward C. Hugler. She shook hands and signed autographs before addressing the crowd.
"As someone who came into this town eight years ago, I can't begin to tell you how incredibly emotional, happy, ... fired up and ready to go [I am] to get our country back to where it needs to be," she said.
Noting the difficult road ahead, she added, "We need to revitalize this agency and we will. We are going to be working and, like the president said yesterday, we are not quitters."
The Senate voted 80-17 Tuesday to confirm the four-term California congresswoman as the Obama administration's labor secretary.
Consideration of the nomination had been briefly delayed as senators reviewed a possible tax controversy surrounding Solis' husband, but the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee supported the nomination
earlier this month.
She takes over a Cabinet agency responsible for enforcing labor laws and managing unemployment insurance at a time when the U.S. unemployment rate stands at 7.6 percent.
"She's a forceful advocate for working families and will bring to the job a genuine understanding and a passion for the issues that affect families so deeply," Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Connecticut, said Tuesday.