Senate Confirms Herman

The Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to confirm Labor Secretary-designate Alexis Herman after President Clinton bowed to Republican opposition and withdrew his proposed executive order on project labor agreements.

Herman's nomination had been held up in recent weeks by a Republican protest over the proposed executive order, which Republicans charged would effectively limit work on federally funded projects to union contractors.

With time running out and the president anxious to get Herman confirmed, the impasse was finally resolved after Clinton agreed to withdraw his executive order and instead issue a non-binding memorandum to federal agencies encouraging project labor agreements.

Clinton issued a statement Wednesday afternoon thanking the Senate for its "strong show of support" in favor of Herman, who was confirmed by a 85-13 vote.

Senate Majority Whip Nickles, who led a Republican protest over the executive order that effectively held Herman's nomination hostage, said the memorandum would remind certain federal agencies that "project labor agreements are legal under extraordinary, not ordinary, circumstances if justified by time, cost and labor management stability considerations."

In the debate over the executive order, administration officials had argued Republican critics were missing a vital point, that project labor agreements serve to guarantee that construction projects are built without strikes, lockouts or other kinds of disruptions that could increase costs.

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