Labor nominee M. Patricia Smith clears procedural hurdle
The nomination of M. Patricia Smith to serve as solicitor of labor cleared a procedural hurdle Monday afternoon, nearly ending a contentious nomination process stalled by Republicans concerned with her involvement in creating a wage watch program in New York.
The Senate voted 60 to 32 to end debate on Smith's nomination to serve as the third-ranking job at the Labor Department. If confirmed she will serve as general counsel to Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis after serving most recently as New York State Labor commissioner.
Republicans have said since the summer that Smith's Senate testimony contradicted documents obtained by Republican committee staffers about New York's Wage Watch program. The project, started in January and modeled after the Neighborhood Watch program, is an effort to root out companies that do not pay proper wages.
"At a time when working families are bearing the brunt of the economic recession and violations of workplace rights are rampant, Ms. Smith's commitment to strong, fair and effective enforcement of our workplace laws is crucial," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement after the vote.
A Senate aide said lawmakers will next consider the nomination of Martha Johnson to lead the General Services Administration. Nominated in May, Johnson has waited longer than any current Obama administration nominee for a full Senate vote.
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