Hilda Solis: Expanded Profile
By Discover The Networks
December 22, 2008
Hilda Solis is the U.S. Secretary of Labor. Prior to being appointed to this post, she was a Democratic Member of Congress who represented California's 32nd District. Born in 1957 in Los Angeles, Solis is the daughter of a Teamsters Union shop steward from Mexico and an assembly-line worker from Nicaragua. She graduated from California State Polytechnic University in 1979 and earned a master’s degree from the University of Southern California in 1981.
In 1980 Solis was hired by President Jimmy Carter’s administration to work as an intern in the White House Office of Hispanic Affairs. In 1981 she worked briefly as an analyst for the Office of Management and Budget, but she left this post because of her distaste for the policies of the newly elected President, Ronald Reagan.
Thus Solis relocated from Washington, DC to the West coast, where she became Director of the California Student Opportunity and Access Program. In 1985 and again in 1989, she was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Rio Hondo Community College District. In 1991 she became Los Angeles County Insurance Commissioner, a politically appointed position. In 1992 she was elected to the California state legislature; two years later she won a seat in the state senate.
In 2000 Solis set her sights on the U.S. House of Representatives. She ran in the Democratic Primary against incumbent congressman Matthew Martinez, who, according to The Almanac of American Politics, had lost liberal feminist and labor support “by voting for a ban on late-term abortions and fast-track trade authority and helping to stall gun control.” Solis’ candidacy received strong support from such organizations as EMILY's List, the Sierra Club, and the California League of Conservation Voters. She was further backed by organized labor and by political heavyweights like U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and Hispanic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. Consequently, Solis won the Primary by a wide margin and, in a solidly Democratic district, easily won the general election. She was subsequently reelected by comfortable margins in 2004, 2006, and 2008.
Throughout her tenure in Congress, labor unions have remained among Solis’ biggest campaign contributors—most notably the Teamsters Union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the Laborers’ International Union of North America. Nearly 60 percent of her Political Action Committee (PAC) donations come from organized labor. Other sizeable contributors include Edison International, the Coca-Cola Company, Microsoft Corporation and the American Association for Justice (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America).
Solis became an officer of the Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives. As a reward for her ideological and political loyalty, fellow Progressive Caucus member and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gave Solis a seat on the powerful Energy & Commerce Committee and made her the ranking Democrat on its Environment and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee.
In June 2008, Solis sent a caseworker from her East Los Angeles office, Elana Henry, to represent her at a workers’ rights forum organized by Socialist International, which has close ties to the Democratic Socialists of America and bills itself as the worldwide organization of social democratic, socialist and labor parties. On a previous occasion twelve years earlier, Solis had sent another representative (Antonio Aguilar) to serve as a presenter at a major Communist Party USA event.
In 2008 Solis avidly supported Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. When Clinton’s effort fell short, Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama aggressively sought Solis’ support in an effort to strengthen his appeal to Hispanic voters.
In December 2008, President-elect Obama announced his intention to nominate Solis for U.S. Secretary of Labor in his forthcoming administration. Solis’ nomination was praised by such luminaries as SEIU President Andrew Stern, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, and former House Minority Whip David Bonior.
Following is an overview of Solis’ congressional voting record from 2001 through 2008, as per key pieces of legislation covering a wide array of issues.
Taxes and Government Spending
In May 2001 Solis voted against President George W. Bush’s 11-year, $958.2 billion tax cut plan.
In May 2003 she voted against a $350 billion tax cut.
In October 2004 she voted against a ten-year, $145 billion tax cut for domestic manufacturers and small corporations.
In April 2005 she voted against a proposal to permanently repeal the estate tax.
In November 2005 she voted against a bill calling for a $49.91 billion reduction in federal spending over a five-year period.
In May 2006 she voted against $69.96 billion in tax cuts and credits through 2010, including reductions on capital gains taxes and dividends taxes.
In June 2006 she voted against a proposal to reduce estate taxes beginning in 2010.
In 2007, Americans for Tax Reform, which generally "opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle," gave Solis a grade of zero.
That same year, FreedomWorks, an organization that "fights for lower taxes, less government and more economic freedom for all Americans," gave her a rating of 5 percent.
Also in 2007, the National Taxpayers Union, which seeks to "reduce government spending, cut taxes, and protect the rights of taxpayers," gave her a grade of F.
In 2007-08, the National Tax Limitation Committee, which lobbies against "intrusive, coercive government," gave her a rating of zero.
Energy and Fossil Fuels
In August 2001 Solis voted to prohibit drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
In May 2006 she voted against a proposal to provide funds for offshore oil exploration along the Outer Continental Shelf; instead, she favored a continuation of President Clinton's 1998 moratorium on oil drilling.
In October 2005 Solis voted against the construction of new oil refineries.
In September 2007 Solis voted in favor of a bill calling on money lenders "to use risk-based pricing to more effectively reach underserved borrowers." In other words, she was endorsing subprime loans to under-qualified borrowers (who were disproportionately nonwhite minorities)—the very practice that eventually would lead to the cataclysmic collapse of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the mortgage industry.
In September 2006 Solis voted against a bill authorizing the President to establish military commissions to try enemy combatants captured in the war on terror. In her view, such tribunals trample on the civil rights and liberties of defendants who, she contends, should be entitled to all the rights and protections afforded by the American criminal court system—where the standards that govern the admissibility of evidence are considerably stricter than the counterpart standards in military tribunals.
Counter-Terrorism & Homeland Security
In September 2001 Solis voted in favor a joint resolution “to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent [9/11] attacks launched against the United States.”
In October 2001 she voted against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001, which proposed to ease restrictions on government wiretap and surveillance operations; to permit government officials to share with one another the information they obtain from such surveillance operations; to strengthen security along the U.S./Canadian border; and to deny U.S. visas to suspected money-launderers.
In October 2001 she voted in favor of the post-9/11 anti-terrorism measure known as the Patriot Act.
In July 2002 she voted against a bill permitting airline pilots to carry firearms for the purpose of defending their aircraft against acts of violence or terrorism.
In October 2002 she voted against a joint resolution authorizing U.S. military action against Iraq.
In September 2006 she voted against an amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978; this amendment called for allowing the government to use electronic surveillance to investigate suspected terrorist operatives.
In August 2007 she voted against a bill permitting the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General to monitor foreign electronic communications which were routed through the United States—provided that the purpose of such monitoring was to obtain "foreign intelligence information" about suspected terrorists.
The Center for Security Policy, which is committed to "promoting international peace through American strength," gave Solis a rating of 11 percent in 2005-06.
The American Security Council, which "serves as educational secretariat of the Congressional Caucus on National Security," gave her a zero rating in 2003-04.
Iraq War / War on Terror
In June 2006 Solis voted against a resolution which stated that it was not in America's national security interest to set an arbitrary date for the withdrawal of its troops from Iraq, and that a better course of action would be to withdraw the troops only upon the "completion of the mission to create a sovereign, free, secure and united Iraq."
In February 2007 she voted to disapprove of President Bush's decision to move ahead with the so-called troop "surge"—the deployment of some 21,500 additional U.S. soldiers in an effort to quell the violent insurgency in Iraq.
In May 2007 she voted in favor of a proposal to expedite the transfer of all prisoners currently being held in the Guantanamo Bay detention center -- most of whom were, as Gordon Cucullu writes in The American Enterprise, "not innocent foot soldiers" but rather "Islamic fundamentalists from across the Middle East, rabid jihadists who have dedicated their lives to the destruction of America and Western civilization."
In July 2007 she voted to begin dramatically reducing the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq by April 1, 2008.
In May 2004 Solis voted "No" on requiring hospitals to report (to the federal government) illegal aliens who receive emergency medical treatment.
In February 2005 she voted against the Real ID Act, which proposed to set minimal security requirements for state driver licenses and identification cards.
In December 2005 she voted against a bill calling for: the construction of some 700 miles of fencing along America's southern border; the establishment of a system requiring business owners to verify the legal status of all their employees; the detention of any person attempting to enter the U.S. illegally; an increase in the penalties on anyone attempting to smuggle illegal aliens into the U.S.; the annual provision of $250 million to pay state and local police agencies for their assistance in enforcing federal immigration laws; and funding for a program to deport "removable criminal aliens" in prison following the completion of their sentences, rather than releasing them into American communities.
In September 2006 she again voted against a bill authorizing the construction of 700 miles of double-layered fencing between the U.S. and Mexico.
That same month, she voted against a proposal to grant state and local officials the authority to investigate, identify, and arrest illegal immigrants.
The U.S. Border Control, which "is dedicated to ending illegal immigration by securing our nation's borders and reforming our immigration policies," gave Solis a rating of zero in 2005-06.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform, which "seeks to improve border security, to stop illegal immigration, and to promote immigration levels consistent with the national interest [about 300,000 a year]," gave her a rating of 8 percent in 2007-08.
By contrast, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, which promotes open borders and an expansion of rights and liberties for illegal aliens, gave Solis a 100 percent rating in 2006.
Abortion and the Rights of the Unborn
Though Solis identifies herself as a Roman Catholic, she supports women's unrestricted right to abortion-on-demand under any and all circumstances. In June 2003 and October 2003, she voted against legislation to ban the late-term abortion procedure commonly known as partial-birth abortion.
In April 2001 she voted in favor of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which proposed to make it an added criminal offense for someone to injure or kill a fetus while carrying out a crime against a pregnant woman. In February 2004 she voted against a very similar bill.
In April 2005 and September 2006, she voted against the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, whose purpose was to prohibit the transportation of a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion without a parent's (or a legal guardian's) consent.
In December 2006 she voted against the Abortion Pain Bill, which mandated that abortion providers, prior to performing an abortion on a fetus older than 20 weeks, inform the mother that: (a) the fetus might feel pain during the procedure, and (b) the use of some pain-reducing drugs may have health risks associated with them.
As a result of having taken the foregoing positions, Solis has consistently received ratings of 100 percent from NARAL and Planned Parenthood.
In July 2006 Solis voted against a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage in America exclusively as the union of one man and one woman.
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