Solis becomes latest nominee slowed by GOP roadblocks
The nomination of Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Calif., to become Labor secretary in the Obama administration hit a snag Thursday, as Democrats announced that a Republican senator was using an anonymous hold to delay her confirmation over political concerns.
According to GOP aides, the hold was filed because of Solis' support for card-check legislation and backing for a pay-discrimination measure, and because of what they called her nonresponsive answers during a committee hearing regarding her nomination. Her backing of those issues puts her in good stead with Democrats but at odds with most Republicans.
"They're all radioactive issues that she is going to have to get involved in pretty deeply," one GOP aide said. The hold, if not lifted, would delay Solis from winning Senate confirmation once her nomination clears the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Solis is the latest Obama nominee to hit at a roadblock thrown up by Republicans whose objections are based on sensitive political matters. Most of the delays, such as the one involving Secretary of State Clinton, have been lifted quickly. Holds that were placed against Lisa Jackson, Obama's choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, and Nancy Sutley, his pick for chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, were lifted Thursday.
Those two were confirmed Thursday evening by unanimous consent, along with nominees who were not held up by Republicans -- Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Schapiro.
Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said the delays for Jackson and Sutley were the result of a misunderstanding of his request for more information while he was traveling and that it was not his intent to place a hold on the nominations.
Barrasso said he had sought more information about the power of a new White House "energy czar" -- former EPA Administrator Carol Browner. Many Republicans have said they fear Browner, who does not need Senate confirmation, will usurp power from EPA and the Energy Department.
Republicans this week also delayed a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Attorney General-designate Eric Holder. After Holder echoed Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and other Democrats in saying waterboarding was torture, Republicans said they wanted more time to explore whether Holder favors prosecution of intelligence officials who had engaged in interrogation of detainees.
Republicans have also objected to Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner's support for the current version of an economic stimulus package, which senior Senate Republicans have spent this week criticizing.
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said Geithner "went out of his way to defend the stimulus bill, which I think is pretty indefensible."
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Thursday that a vote on Geithner will likely come Monday.
Darren Goode contributed to this report.