Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why are Republicans obstructing the nomination of Hilda Solis?

-- by Dave

I remember when Alberto Gonzales' confirmation hearings were underway, conservatives like Rush Limbaugh took to the airwaves to decry the racism of those liberals who dared oppose him.

Now the shoe's on the other foot. Even though most of Barack Obama's nominations have sailed through confirmation hearings and votes with alacrity, there's one notable exception -- Hilda Solis, Obama's pick as Labor Secretary:

The confirmation of Rep. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte, as President Barack Obama's Labor secretary has been delayed because of Republican objections.

Democrats have announced that a Republican senator is using a parliamentary procedure to delay Solis' confirmation, the Washington paper Congress Daily reported Friday.

But while it does seem peculiar that conservatives would block the nomination of one of Obama's few Latino candidates, no one is suggesting that racism is the motive here.

Actually, there's a very simple answer to the above question: The Employee Free Choice Act.

As the Star-News report notes:

The anonymous hold - as the tactic is known - was placed because of Solis' support for "card check" legislation aimed at facilitating union organization and another bill regarding pay-discrimination, and for non-responsive answers during her confirmation hearing, according to GOP aides, the paper reported.

During her nomination hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Solis deferred questions on the controversial card check bill to Obama, to the frustration of GOP committee members, who strongly oppose the legislation.

Mario Solis-Marich at Nuestra Voice observes:

The Department of Labor has long been a strange relic to economic conservatives. Where DC visitors to the DOL see an office building the GOP sees a wicked temple inhabited by evil wizards that actually count the unemployed and study statistics that often contradict core conservative economic superstitions. The questions to Solis were reminiscent of a witch dunking where there are no right answers. If Solis had drowned she would have been human and acceptable but her survival, due to her accurate and honest answers, indicated her pre-supposed guilt.

I reviewed the Solis hearing that seems to have befuddle the GOP inquisitors and found the Secretary Designate to be very even handed. Solis admitted that she sponsored the Employee Free Choice Act (apparently a type of anti-GOP spell) and that President Obama has endorsed it. However Solis also repeatedly indicated that she was not clear what her role would be in the coming debate surrounding the Act due to her potential new position and her inability to yet speak for the Administration. Solis gave the same nuanced answers to Senate Democrats that wanted assurances about a host of progressive labor agenda items that she gave to the GOP. The Secretary Designate was trying to express and open mindedness to a middle ground while respectfully deferring to the new President (who by the way was still President elect at the time of the hearing).

Republicans are sending a clear signal with this delay that they intend to fight the Free Choice Act with every fiber of their beings. Democrats has better be ready. Fortunately, Hilda Solis already will be.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

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