Labor secretary resigns 'to begin a new future'
January 9th, 2013
04:22 PM ET
5 years ago

Labor secretary resigns 'to begin a new future'

Washington (CNN) - Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis resigned her post Wednesday, offering no specific reason but that she "enjoyed my first opportunity in years to reflect on the past and my future" over the holidays.

"Leaving the department is one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made, because I have taken our mission to heart," she wrote in a letter to colleagues obtained by CNN. "As the daughter of parents who worked in factories, paid their union dues and achieved their goal of a middle class life, and as the first Latina to head a major federal agency, it has been an incredible honor to serve."

Solis provided no date when she would step down, but Labor Department officials told CNN her departure is expected around the inauguration, which is later this month.

"Over her long career in public service – as an advocate for environmental justice in California, state legislator, member of Congress and Secretary of Labor – Hilda Solis has been a tireless champion for working families," President Barack Obama wrote in a statement. "Over the last four years, Secretary Solis has been a critical member of my economic team as we have worked to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and strengthen the economy for the middle class.

"Her efforts have helped train workers for the jobs of the future, protect workers' health and safety and put millions of Americans back to work. I am grateful to Secretary Solis for her steadfast commitment and service not only to the Administration, but on behalf of the American people. I wish her all the best in her future endeavors."

Her resignation comes amid other high-profile shifts at the top ranks of Obama's administration, including the upcoming resignations of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

She was one of four first term female cabinet secretaries. Solis' resignation just exasperates a diversity problem for the second term Obama cabinet. All four of the top cabinet jobs in the second term - State, Defense, Justice and Treasury - are expected to be occupied by males. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Wednesday "diversity is important" and said the administration is working to make sure it is diverse.

The administration is looking for a woman to serve as the next Commerce Secretary, two sources familiar with the nomination process told CNN. John Bryson resigned from the post in June, and the acting commerce secretary is Rebecca Blank.

A White House official said Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki are expected to stay in their current posts. The official did not give a timetable on how long the three might stay, but none of them is expected to depart in the near future.

Solis noted her accomplishments at the Labor Department in the letter, writing, "Growing up in a large Mexican-American family in La Puente, California, I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to serve in a president's cabinet, let alone in the service of such an incredible leader."

"Because of our work, more people are receiving the wages they are owed," she wrote.

Solis also touted her work in relation to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Obama's health care law.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said after Solis' announcement that she "brought urgently needed change to the Department of Labor, putting the U.S. government firmly on the side of working families.

"Under Secretary Solis, the Labor Department became a place of safety and support for workers," he wrote. "Secretary Solis's Department of Labor talks tough and acts tough on enforcement, workplace safety, wage and hour violations and so many other vital services. Secretary Solis never lost sight of her own working-class roots, and she always put the values of working families at the center of everything she did."

Trumka urged the president to pick a successor who "will continue to be a powerful voice both within the Obama administration and across the country for all of America's workers."

Before joining the Obama administration in 2009, Solis was a congresswoman from California with a particular interest in environmental issues. She was the first Latina in the California State Senate, according to her official biography. She had also worked in the administration of President Jimmy Carter and in the federal Office of Management and Budget's Civil Rights Division.

Filed under: Hilda Solis
soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. Kevin

    "As an advocate for environmental justice . . . "

    What the hell does that statement even mean?

    January 9, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  2. empresstrudy

    CNN is already carping that there's a chick deficiency in the cabinet. So His Obamness best tap another chick for this job.

    January 9, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  3. rams3144

    Never saw anything like it. EVERYBODY leaves Obama. Must be a horror to work for.

    January 9, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  4. Hillcrester

    Second term Cabinet turnover has usually occurred. No big deal.

    January 9, 2013 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  5. Brian

    "Solis' resignation just exasperates a diversity problem" – shouldn't that be exacerbates? Damn you autocorrect!

    January 9, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. dan

    She was not one of Obama's Chicago cronies and that is what he wants surrounding him so she had to go. She was just a vote getter for the Latino's, Obama did not much care for her anyway.

    January 9, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "Solis' resignation just exasperates a diversity problem for the second term Obama cabinet."

    No, it really doesn't. You just finished listing severl men who hold cabinet positions and are leaving as well. Sto faliling so desperately to put a controversial spin on everything. All anyone with a brain in their head heard when they read that sentence was "WOLF WOLF WOLF!!!!"

    January 9, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    ""As an advocate for environmental justice . . . "

    What the hell does that statement even mean?"


    Whose neighborhoods and living environments are at most risk for contamination and pollution? Hmmm? Who really wins the NIMBY ("not in my back yard") fights on a consistent basis such that those who can't AFFORD to defend themselves by spending lobbyist and donation money always end up with the short end of the factories in their back yards, near their schools, polluted rinking water and air, etc.?

    January 9, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  9. GonzoinHouston

    If she's been in labor for four years I don't blame her for wanting out! OWWWWW!

    January 9, 2013 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  10. Chris

    I can't believe Holder is still in there...

    January 9, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  11. Observor

    The main criminals in the administration kept their jobs. Americans are a bad joke.

    January 9, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  12. Mike S

    Thanks for the Hispanic vote. See you later sucker. – Obama.
    I saw another report where she reports of being proud of spending $67 billion during her tenure. Hoo Boy! Where are the results? But I am not surprise. That's how Obama views success.

    January 9, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    resignation just exasperates a diversity problem for the second term Obama cabinet.

    January 9, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  14. john2397

    Why Obama is kicking out minority and ladies from his cabinet? Either they are not efficient or to make a room for ALL WHITE CABINET?

    January 9, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  15. WhereTheresSmoke

    oops, she forgot to tell about how she felt like a failure for the demise of the Unions and the failure to create jobs during the times of such great hope and change. I'm sure her reflection over the holidays included a phone call from her boss, who strongly encouraged her to leave.

    January 9, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  16. McCaffrey

    She got tired of fudging the monthly unemployment numbers. Buh bye Hilda!

    January 9, 2013 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  17. gajb

    Perhaps it's time for Obama to pull out his "Binders of Women" to replace some of those having the good sense to bail out of his "wonderful" cabinet

    January 9, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  18. Padraig

    Forget about party lines and I don't care about her race, color, creed, sex, sexual preference. Every admininstration has turnover especially after an election. You don't need to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

    The question I have is was she successful? My answer would be no she was not and the President does need to find someone else who hopefully will be possible. Our unemployment is considerably higher than what our President said it would be after 4 years in office, more people are on welfare, more people are collecting unemployment benefits – this is what we need to focus on and DEMAND our President and congressional members to resolve.

    January 9, 2013 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  19. DumbasRocks

    Good riddence to deadwood! Hope Obama and Joe resign too! That would give our country a chance to survive ya know!

    January 9, 2013 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  20. Jobu

    You lean in any American Government class that just about everyone in an administration customarily submits a resignation. The president accepts and rejects for various reasons.

    What I'm getting at: she was fired.

    January 9, 2013 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  21. Kathryn Harlan

    Eric Holder is staying...How SAD FOR THIS COUNTRY!!!

    January 9, 2013 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  22. Time for a Big Pay Day

    Time to make some big bucks...

    January 9, 2013 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  23. SpamEater

    Of course Holder won't leave. Who would quash all of the investigations of himself and the rest of the corrupt Obama administration iof he did?

    January 9, 2013 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |

    Here's your war on women. Get rid of all the women, bring in men puppet slaves to Obama's agenda.

    January 9, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  25. ug

    Get Holder to resign...

    January 9, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
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