NOMINATION OF HILDA L. SOLIS, OF CALIFORNIA, TO BE SECRETARY OF LABOR--Continued -- (Senate - February 24, 2009)
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Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I am pleased and proud that the Senate today is taking up the nomination of Hilda Solis for Secretary of Labor. Representative Solis is an extraordinary person, with an impressive background in public service. Anyone familiar with her work and her many accomplishments can attest that she is a truly inspirational leader. In the face of the current, unprecedented economic crisis, her confirmation to this important position is especially significant.
Each day, the headlines contain troubling new economic reports. Americans lost 3 million jobs last year. Mr. President, 2.6 million have been looking for work for more than 6 months, 2.3 million have lost their homes, 31 million rely on food stamps to put food on the table.
But this economic crisis is not just about numbers on a page or a lead story on the evening news. It is about what is happening to millions of working families. They are enduring tremendous hardships, and they know their friends and neighbors are suffering as well. The recovery bill passed under President Obama's leadership is a significant step in the right direction, but we still have an enormous challenge ahead of us.
To rebuild our economy, we must restore security for working people. They need to know that they can get up and go to work in the morning without worrying about a pink slip, that they will earn a fair day's pay for a fair day's work so they can support their families, and that they can provide a better future for their children and a secure retirement for themselves.
Most of all, they want leaders in government who understand how important these basic necessities are. That is why Hilda Solis is the right choice for Secretary of Labor.
Representative Solis is from a hard-working American family. Her father was a farmworker, a railroad worker, and a laborer in a battery recycling plant. Her mother worked for 22 years on the assembly line in a toy factory. She watched her parents sacrifice all their lives to build a better future for her and their other children. Because of their struggles, Hilda became the first person in her family to go to college.
Hilda Solis knows from deeply personal experience the challenges that American families face, because she has lived these challenges herself. And she has brought the lessons she learned from those years to her career in public service.
Since her earliest days in public life, Hilda has put working families first. Whether it's fighting to keep toxic waste out of poor communities, championing legislation to protect victims of domestic violence, or leading efforts to train our workforce for the ``green collar'' jobs of the 21st century, she has never turned away from a challenge. She has never hesitated to stand up for what is right.
In 2000, she became the first woman to receive the Profile in Courage Award for her remarkable work as a California State senator. The award is
given each year to those people who have demonstrated the political courage that President Kennedy so admired, and HILDA SOLIS exemplifies these outstanding qualities. As I said at the time she received the award, ``The extraordinary successes of Hilda Solis as a member of the California legislature show the power of one person with vision, ability, dedication, and courage to overcome even the most powerful forces of oppression and resistance.''
Now, again, HILDA has powerful forces to overcome, and tremendous challenges ahead. I have every confidence that she is the right person for the job. She is exactly who we need at the helm of such an important agency at this critical time for out country.
America's workers are the best in the world, and they deserve our best efforts to help them through these difficult times. And they deserve to have the best possible advocate on their side. Today, we will do them a great service by confirming Hilda Solis.
She is a true hero for working families, and we are fortunate to have someone of her tremendous talents at the Department. I look forward to working closely with our new Secretary of Labor to tackle the immense challenges facing America's workers, and to bring job security and real opportunity for all Americans.
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