March 13th, 2009
09:34 AM ET
13 years ago

Solis sworn in at Labor, two posts still vacant

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Biden swore in Solis as Labor Secretary Friday."](CNN) - Vice President Joe Biden swore in California Rep. Hilda Solis as the next Secretary of Labor Friday Morning, one of three cabinet posts that had yet to be formally filled.

"When she held hearings on sweatshops she was heard," Biden sad of Solis Friday. "When she fought to protect low income and minority communities from landfill and pollution and environmental hazards – she was heard. And in Congress, when she stood up, she stood up to level the playing field for workers to organize – she was heard."

The Senate confirmed Solis, 51, for the post last month.

Even with Solis' swearing in, the Obama administration still has two open cabinet posts, Secretary of Commerce and Health and Human Services. That's more cabinet vacancies than any of his recent predecessors at this point into a new presidential term.

Although Obama has named nominees for the top posts at the Departments of Commerce and Health and Human Services, they have yet to be confirmed by the Senate. President Clinton had two lingering cabinet vacancies almost two months into his second term, but the Senate confirmed his pick for Energy Secretary on March 12. Clinton’s other vacancy was for the Labor Secretary post, which the Senate filled on April 30.

In 1989, President George H.W. Bush had four cabinet vacancies heading into March of his first year in office, but the Senate confirmed his picks for Energy and HHS on March 1 and his Veterans Affairs secretary nominee on March 2. The fourth vacancy, which was for Secretary of Defense, was filled by the Senate on March 17.

The length of time Obama is taking to complete his Cabinet has surprised a number of political observers. The president announced his Cabinet picks at a rapid clip after last November's election, but quickly became entangled in various nominees' tax and ethics problems.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson bowed out of the running for commerce secretary on January 5, citing the distraction of a federal investigation into ties to a company that has done business with his state.

Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire - Obama's second Commerce pick, cited "irresolvable conflicts" with the administration over the economic stimulus bill when he withdrew his name from consideration on February 12.

Former Washington state Gov. Gary Locke is the president's third choice to head the Commerce Department.

Obama joked during his announcement of Locke that he is "a big believer in keeping at something until you get it right."

Former Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota - who was selected to be secretary of health and human services - withdrew on February 3 after controversy erupted over his tax records and questions over his work in a field that some consider lobbying.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is Obama's new pick for secretary of Health and Human Services.

Former Rep. Hilda Solis was sworn in as the administration's labor secretary Friday. The Senate voted 80-17 to confirm the four-term California congresswoman after consideration of her nomination had been briefly delayed by a review of a possible tax controversy surrounding her husband.

Filed under: Joe Biden
soundoff (113 Responses)
  1. cj

    Jefe................ What are you talking about? Also, when am I going to stop seeing the name Bush on all of the posts? Do you really think he is to blame for all of the mess? Pretty blind for such open minded people wouldn't you say?

    March 13, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  2. Wake Up America

    Obama is an incompetent socialist. I know it is hard for dreamers to see that. Can one of you libs please tell me his plan on fixing the banks? Didn't think so.

    March 13, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  3. Lori

    Good job, President Obama! I'm sure Ms. Solis will do an excellent job for the workers of this country.

    Hey Republicans: The DOW has been rising, I guess that means President Obama is doing an excellent job, huh? Where are all the Republicans now? Why aren't they giving the President credit for DOW now?

    March 13, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  4. Lisa T

    Wow, after reading some of these posts I am more convinced that Americans are too lazy to gather all of the information necessary to form a logical opinion!

    Kevin in Ohio: The Card Check does not get rid of the secret ballot -read the entire proposal! We have had quasi socialistic programs since our country's founding – taxes, medicare, medicaid, military, police, etc. Stop with the phony outrage. If you simply don't like President Obama and/or some/all of his policies, say so! Don't pretend that they are something that they're not. That is called LYING! And no, I'm not going to allow the following comment you made to go unanswered: " Ijoe…… the market is up because Obama has been keeping his mouth shut. Any time he makes an announcement, which is always covered, the market goes down. Comprende?". Reality: Obama has been talking daily about his ideas and plans to move this country forward – just because you spin it and then say it does not make it true! Have a nice day!

    March 13, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  5. obama-mama

    Good luck Solis. I'm sure she'll do her very best. Obama don't let those rabid republicans knock you off your square

    March 13, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  6. Doug from OH

    Obama is one of those guys that is good at looking busy – without ever actually accomplishing anything. Throw money at problems, talk a good game, scramble around for some photo-ops. Bam! You got yourself a Prez.

    March 13, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  7. Chris


    March 13, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  8. Deborah

    Time will tell quickly if Solis remains in her position for more then a week!

    March 13, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  9. Mari

    @ CALEB......... As usual you are the typical offensive conservative! This is the problem with the far-right-rhetoric, you paint ALL LIBERALS with the same broad brush!

    However CALEB..... IF you would do some research you would find plenty of skeletons in the GOP-closet! Plenty of scandals, TAX FRAUD, sex scandals, etc.!

    My husband and I have always paid our taxes! Given the confusing tax laws of our Nation it is a miracle most of us do not have problems with taxes!


    March 13, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  10. Deborah

    Time will tell quickly if Solis remains in her position for more then a week!

    March 13, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  11. Typical White Person

    There is yet another vacant position that CNN is ignoring. Obama and company are trying to come up with a title that they can get past the media and critics so that indicted Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley can help them with the bailout oversight...a man with 118 indictments is wanted to consult on the bailout oversight...we know this because he had to apply to the judge to travel to DC...

    From an actual news source which CNN won't post:

    Stapley's attorney, Paul Charlton, said there was a mix-up in terminology and acknowledged the supervisor has not been appointed to a task force by Vice President Joe Biden, as was claimed in a motion filed Tuesday.

    However, Stapley was asked to participate in a meeting next week in Washington, D.C., to discuss the implementation of the economic recovery plan signed last month by President Barack Obama, Charlton said.

    "He was invited to participate in something called something other than a task force," Charlton said Wednesday afternoon, after the White House denied Stapley had been appointed to any committee by the administration. "That was Don's understanding of what the group was going to be called, but we're clearly going to agree with whatever the White House is saying it is."

    Only the Democrats can debate the meaning of "is" and call the loss of the secret ballot in unionization the "Employee Free Choice Act" and have "something called something other than a task force"...

    March 13, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  12. ObamaShrugged

    When are they changing the name of the Democratic Party to the Labor Party?
    Unions have had their day. We have OSHA, Fair Labor Laws, EEOC, EDIC, and every other govt agency regulating employee concerns. the only people who want unions are the people running them, because they don't have to get real jobs. They just steal a little bit of the workers paycheck every week. Stop paying union dues and the industries can afford to keep hiring you and not outsourcing. Can't you feel these leeches sucking on your wallet?

    March 13, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  13. Chris

    Hey Lori! Let me get this straight - when the Dow goes up he takes credit. When it goes down he says we inherited this economy. Gutless. One term!! 1-20-2013

    March 13, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  14. therealmarie

    It's about darn time. The Republicans and there obstruction. Vote as many of them out in 2010 as possible.

    March 13, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  15. Terry, TX

    Someone above posed the question ...what's wrong with the union when they are the only ones who can fire employees?

    Did the union .... start the company with their own money and brains, does the union pay the salaries of employees, does the union pay for the benefits the employees have, is the union concerned whether a profit is made (GM & Chrysler), will the Union threaten to strike to shut a company down...on and they target and try to intimidate to go union... this is not the "unions" I grew up with...they are no better than politicians....and they hooked up with the ACLU. I equate them with ACORN.
    Didn't they just have a blowout at a $400 a night exclusive hotel in Miami...Joe Biden gave a speech there where the media was not allowed to cover....Warning...Warning.

    March 13, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  16. LJ

    Presidents don't make the markets go up or down, market makes the market go up or down...we have fallen so much there is only one way to go...

    March 13, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  17. rorshach

    In January 2007, fellow Hispanic Caucus members including Loretta Sanchez, Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Hilda Solis (D-CA) and Sanchez's sister Linda Sanchez (D-CA) wrote a letter to Baca asking for a new election with a secret ballot. They claimed that Baca was elected chair of the Caucus in a public ballot, which is against the Caucus' own rules for electing a chair, which call for a secret ballot election.

    So, in essence, she wants to vote a secret ballot to see who is elected leader of her little caucus, but doesn't want the same right for workers, awesome, more hypocrisy.

    March 13, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  18. JDC

    Can't understand why more liberal tax evaders aren't being appointed.

    March 13, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  19. Geithner's lonely

    Apparently high unemployment is a problem at the White House too.

    March 13, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  20. Adam, Chicago, Illinois

    What I find funny is that the Republicans are using the exact same criticisms of Obama that the Dems used for Bush. Both are right! Now only if they could understand that both parties are just slightly different versions of the same corrupt, non-representational, American political machine...then progress could be made.

    We the people are no longer represented.

    March 13, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  21. Majority Rule Moral Majority

    What you get when electing someone based on affirmative action.

    March 13, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  22. Beverly, NYC

    The MSM has gone pshycho, either the President is doing too much or he's doing too little. Fix housing, fix banks, fix wall street, fill cabinet positions. It's been 52 days people. There isn't a drive thru window where he can just pick up the perfect solution to everyones problem. In 52 days, we have federal budget, stimulus plan in place, education bill signed, equal pay act signed, banks already re-paying TARP $ to Treasury. Given the slow learner we had for the past 8 years it's nice to finally have a multi-tasking adult in charge. If he were concentrating on Wall street, main street will be screaming, and the press would be tagging him as the next Carter for getting bogged down on one item. Everything does not have to stop because wall street doesn't know when they resume their $300 lunches. Life goes on, my telephone, mortgage, cable and light bills still come in the mail without a care for wall street or cabinet posts. Maybe if the big boys feel the pain for a while they will be less likely to make the same mistakes that got us here.

    March 13, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  23. J Briggs

    "Broom" Hilda Solis. Another questionable selection to have in this administration. In this entire United States, there wasn't a more qualified person? Why her? Anybody except some farm workers in California ever heard of her? Machine Gun Joe's description of her experience reads about like O's resume, brief. I've been married over 35 years and I guarantee you if my spouse was doing something underhanded when it came to taxes, and business practices, I would certainly have know about it or found out about it. Ms Solis tactfully kept her yap closed when all that surfaced. Don't trust her either, like most of O's gang.

    March 13, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  24. Kevin in Ohio

    Even George McGovern could not support Card Check because it eliminates the secret ballot.

    Why do we need Unions at all? They've done so much good for the people of Detroit..........

    March 13, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  25. Anne

    I believe that President Obama is trying to make smart choices. Granted, making quicker choices would have had a complete cabinet up and running. But considering the current state of affairs, the choices wouldn't necessarily have been wiser.

    March 13, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
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