As Barack Obama glides to a swearing in before a record, and enraptured, crowd, there are signs that things won't go as easily for his pick to become Secretary of Labor. Yesterday, Republican senators told Politico.com that they may try to defeat Hilda Solis.
The Senators are angry over Solis's evasiveness about her intentions at the helm of the Labor Department. At her confirmation hearing she refused to answer most questions about hot-button topics like card check, saying either that she had no opinion, or, in one case, was "not qualified" to respond. Asked Republican Tom Coburn, rhetorically, "If she won't answer the questions, how can you support the nomination?"
Of course, he would've been equally displeased had she answered the questions. Solis is the daughter of immigrant union workers; her father was a Teamster shop steward. For the moment, she represents suburban Los Angeles in Congress, where she is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and where she has earned high marks from -- wait for it -- unions. There is little doubt where she stands on pro-labor legislation.
Republicans are considering whether to put a "hold" on Solis's confirmation. The hold is the Senate equivalent to the Vulcan Nerve Pinch: it operates mysteriously, and its effects are seldom permanent. Any senator can ask a party leader to delay action on any nomination, legislation, or treaty, and the authors of such holds usually remain anonymous, even within the Senate. If the hold isn't withdrawn, it takes a vote of 60 senators to force a floor vote. Since the Democrats will control at least 58 seats, and, according to Politico, some Republicans will support Solis, it is unlikely Coburn's caucus will be able to kill her nomination. But they may be able to delay it. And it is a sure signal of the battles to come --- even with a sympathetic secretary and president, Labor will not win its way so easily.