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. LIP

    Solis sounds like a Union organizer to me and right now the last thing this country needs is an advocate for the Unions. Organized corrupt unions have taken us down the path of internal destrucion, feeding the exit to third world countries in order to be competitive in the global community/economy. Time will tell. Is this a good pick or not?

    March 13, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  2. LB in FLA

    I agree with Politico's Martin: “Having campaigned on a promise that lobbyists won’t run his White House, President Barack Obama is discovering that what may make for a good sound bite on the campaign trail can complicate governing. As he strives to build an administration beyond his top Cabinet officers, Obama is finding that he has limited his pool of potential appointees because of a ban on individuals from agencies that they have lobbied within the past two years. Some of the very people who would best serve in politically sensitive posts – interest group veterans, former campaign operatives or ex-Hill staffers – earn a living through lobbying.”

    Given the U.S. attorney scandal, which was more damaging to Bush politically than many in the media credit, don't expect the White House to force any U.S. attorneys out of their job anytime soon.

    March 13, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  3. Simmy

    Kevin in Ohio,

    Did you know that Markets can be manipulated by investors – Republican, big-business-investors? Wall Street hates the idea of change. Any way that they can fight the President, they will. They have started a concerted effort to manipulate certain stocks, so that they plunge. Much like the Republicans in Congress have a concerted effort to say "No." Those two entities are pushing for failure of the administration. It will not happen. Stay tuned......

    March 13, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  4. proud american

    You may have mentioned that the man George Bush Senior ended up appointing as Defense Secretary in 1989 after a previous failed attempt was a man named Dick Cheney.

    Thank goodness we have Barack Obama!

    March 13, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  5. Matthew, Detroit

    Office of Management and Budget Vivek Kundra just took a "leave of
    absence" while the FBI continues the search of his offices.

    At least Solis got in.

    Blame anyone you want but this failure comes down to the naiveness

    of Barack and the naiveness of the White House Staff.

    Maybe if Rahm Emanuel spent more time vetting and less time

    chasing his tail (Rush Limbaugh) he could get some proper work done.

    March 13, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  6. New Day

    I love hearing the conservative minority complaining. You guys had decades to be more inclusive and forward-thinking and you failed miserably. Well, now that the myths that you guys are better on defense and fiscal responsibilty has all but evaporated, all you have left is lies and attacks.

    The Reps have become a bankrupt, idealess, way-out-of-the-mainstream political party. Whether fair or not, their image is intertwined with bigots, religious zealots, greedy CEOs, and hate mongers like ol' Ox E. Cotton (yeah, the left has their celebrity loons too but, we keep them in the corner–we dont invite them to run our party).

    The Reps need a major overhaul to their image and philosophy if they want to be competitive in an increasingly diverse country. If not, well, the Whigs my want to extend an invitation your way for a round of golf.

    March 13, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  7. rdanson

    we have no jobs and who knows what it will look like with illegal immigrations. oh yes, they will get their share of your hard earned stimulus dollars. mr president, please enforce the laws of this land.

    March 13, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  8. Probama

    "Majority Rule Moral Majority," So were Bobby Jindal and Michael Steele also elected because of affirmative action? If your bitterness for your President is stemming from his ethnic background, you might as well GET OUT of America for the next 8 years. Cabinet vacancies in the first few months of a presidency isn't uncommon in case you didn't really read the article.

    March 13, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  9. Lisa T

    Chris, Lori did NOT say that President Obama is taking credit for the current market numbers. She simply pointed out the hypocrisy coming from some of you conservatives who have been claiming that the market was down because of Obama!

    p.s. The truth is: President Obama DID inherit this terrible economy! Another truth is: Bush DID inherit a surplus!

    Whew, who would have thought that un-brainwashing would be such a difficult task?!!!
    Before you start attacking me...I am a middle-aged, white, small business owning democratic female with a post-graduate degree. So I am NOT on welfare, NOT too lazy to work and NOT uneducated. Darn, I've ruined your theory on the types of people who are Democrats!

    Lisa Taylor – Lake Wales, Florida

    March 13, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  10. New Day

    Kevin – I agree with you that unions have hurt the American auto industry more than they've helped but, I'm guessing GM, Ford and Chrysler's short-sighted plan for designing cars "people want" instead of cars "people will want" may have had more to do with it. The auto industry was sloppy and narrow-minded in all aspects of their business and they are now paying for it.

    March 13, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  11. RWT

    You can't tax your way into prosperity....remember that Dems!

    March 13, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  12. mk

    Interesting how the media positions this as negative for Obama when he is instead implementing the more strict ethics and lobbying regulations on nominations in history which is making it harder and take longers to complete the process.

    But why position that as a good thing? Maybe bad press brings more viewers?

    March 13, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  13. Mark

    Today China is even telling Obama to control his spending. Liberals!This may be important being they are covering our debt and Obamas future debt!!

    Oh and if this cabinet fiasco was under a Republican president the media would be hammering it like no tomorrow.

    March 13, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  14. Linda in MS


    I agree with your post. It does look like Wall Street is holding America hostage until they get whatever they want, and what that is I don't know. Your point about wealthy conservative stockholders does make sense.

    March 13, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  15. thomas

    President Obama should add a Secretary of Humanitarian Affairs to his cabinet to deal with issues like homelessness, hunger, abuse, disease, rehabilitation, prison conditions, and other unmet human needs.

    March 13, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  16. thomas

    President Obama should add a Secretary of Humanitarian Affairs to his cabinet to deal with issues like homelessness, hunger, abuse, disease, rehabilitation, prison conditions, and other unmet human needs.

    March 13, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  17. alvino

    Wake up America-

    Evidently 'Death of American by Obama' is not the only one who rode the little bus to school. I'll bet the two of you had some interesting conversations.

    March 13, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  18. Tom in S.A.

    She's from California, nuff said

    March 13, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  19. James

    Hey Lisa T
    Maybe you should take some of your own advise.
    Not every thing about socialism is bad but lets not hide the facts. Obama is a socialist democrat. Lets call him what he is!

    The definition of socialist!
    Socialists mainly share the belief that capitalism unfairly concentrates power and wealth among a small segment of society that controls capital, creates an unequal society, and does not provide equal opportunities for everyone in society. Therefore socialists advocate the creation of a society in which wealth and power are distributed more evenly.

    March 13, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  20. bsmith171

    solis another politician with no executive or management experience.
    obama ORDERED to hire her.

    March 13, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  21. the idiot

    Proud American@Another ridiculous post. What is the point. Did Cheney do something wrong as Secretary of Defense under Bush I? Sounds like just another one of those hate, non-sensical statements you make so often. Ranting, blathering idiocy.

    March 13, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  22. Mary

    Great all this woman is good for is promoting "Unions". Unions are part of the problem in this country today. Get with the times Solis – WE DO NOT NEED UNIONS!!! You are a BAD choice with wrong ideals.....

    March 13, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  23. alvino


    After waiting patiently for 26 years for Reagan's tax cuts for the wealthy to trickle down to me, it is comforting to know that after 7 weeks in office, Obama will see to it that my tax cut begins on April 1. I am sure the 95% of American workers are pleased to see some relief.

    March 13, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  24. Baze

    She definitely will institute a system that calls for hard work and fair treatment

    March 13, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  25. mervin

    Evidently it take time to find a democrat that is up to date on paying their taxes

    March 13, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
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