Obama's Labor Secretary Pick Has Senate Session Postponed in wake of her husband not paying taxes
A Senate committee today abruptly canceled a session to consider President Obama's nomination of Rep. Hilda Solis to be labor secretary in the wake of a report saying that her husband yesterday paid about $6,400 to settle tax liens against his business -- including liens that had been outstanding for as long as 16 years.
The report, by USA Today, came just before the Senate's Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee was slated to meet to consider Solis's nomination, which had been delayed by questions over her role on the board of the pro-labor organization American Rights at Work. A source said that committee members did not learn about the tax issue until today.
"Today's executive session was postponed to allow members additional time to review the documentation submitted in support of Representative Solis's nomination to serve in the important position of Labor Secretary," read a joint statement issued by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), the panel's chairman, and Mike Enzi (Wyoming), the committee's ranking Republican. "There are no holds on her nomination and members on both sides of the aisle remain committed to giving her nomination the fair and thorough consideration that she deserves. We will continue to work together to move this nomination forward as soon as possible."
No new date has been set for the hearing. The disclosure about Solis's husband comes after tax problems caused trouble for three of Obama's top appointees, leading two of them -- HHS-nominee Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer, who was to be chief performance officer -- to withdraw. Asked about the USA Today report at the White House daily briefing, press secretary Robert Gibbs emphasized that the nominee's tax returns are in order.
"Well, I read the story in USA Today, and it quotes somebody that works here, so obviously we've -- we know about this story. I'll say this. We reviewed her tax returns, and her tax returns are in order," said Gibbs.
"The story denotes that her husband had some issues with paying a business tax, and obviously that tax is -- should be paid. He's -- she's not a partner in that business, Gibbs continued. "So we're not going to penalize her for her husband's business mistakes. Obviously, her husband, I think, has and should pay any taxes that he owes. "