Solis Lingers; Acting Secretary Appointed

By Marc Ambinder

Amid threats of a Republican hold on Labor Secretary nominee Hilda Solis, President Obama has asked a top department official to serve as Acting Labor Secretary until she's confirmed. Edward Hugler, currently the deputy assistant secretary for administration, has spent more than 30 years in a variety of functions in the department.

Solis's fate is unclear. Her status as treasurer of the pro-EFCA American Rights at Work (ARW) is what's causing concern. Republicans shouldn't really have expected Obama to nominate someone who didn't support labor's agenda, including card check, but they're professed surprise. More legitimately, they point out that ARW was a lobbying for labor, and the position of treasurer includes the moving around of lots of money. It's not clear where the lines of demarcation are between her ARW duties and Congressional ethics rules, which look askance at members who help to run organizations that lobby Congress. (Solis was not paid for her work, and ARW insists that her role was ceremonial.)

The news of a temporary appointment comes on the day that Labor begins a massive public campaign to pressure Congress to speed up its consideration of EFCA.  Several thousand workers will deliver 1.5  million signatures to members today. The aim is to contrast "real grassroots support" with the "fake front groups" set up by corporations to oppose card check, a labor official said.  Leading grasstops opposition groups released a poll today purporting to show that most Americans don't want to join a union.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/02/solis-lingers-acting-secretary-appointed/335/