We are approaching day 160 of the Obama Administration, yet the Solicitor of Labor is not yet in place,  neither are the Assistant Secretaries for most other DOL agencies, including Employment Training Administration, MSHA, OSHA, VETS and Women’s Bureau.   Attorney Patricia M. Smith was nominated by President Obama on March 19 to serve as the Solicitor, and her confirmation hearing on May 7 seemed quite tame.  I’d not imagined that I’d be writing this blog post 8 weeks after that Senate proceeding, with her nomination stuck in Committee.  The slow pace of the Solicitor of Labor’s nomination got me thinking about how this Administration’s appointment process for DOL officials compares to G.W. Bush’s first term.   Here are a few facts to ponder:

  • G.W. Bush’s Labor Secretary, Elaine Chao, was confirmed on January 29, 2001; Labor Secretary Hilda Solis was confirmed on February 24, 2009.
  • G.W. Bush’s OSHA chief, John Henshaw, was nominated on June 12, 2001 and confirmed by the Senate on August 3.  A nominee to head OSHA has not yet been announced, but Jordan Barab was selected by Secretary Solis to serve as acting OSHA chief.
  • G.W. Bush’s MSHA chief, David Lauriski, was nominated on April 3, 2001 and confirmed on May 9, 2001.  A nominee to head MSHA has not yet been announced.

  • G.W. Bush’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) chief, Emily Stover DeRocco, was nominated on June 21, 2001, and confirmed by the Senate by August 3, 2001.  The Obama Administration’s choice for ETA asst. secretary has not yet been announced , Jane Oates was nominated on April 8 and confirmed by the Senate on June 19.*
  • G.W. Bush’s Wage and Hour chief, Tammy Dee McCutchen, was nominated September 14, 2001, and confirmed by the Senate on December 08, 2001.  President Obama announced on April 14, 2009 the nomination of Lorelei Boylan to lead the Wage and House division.  The Senate HELP Committee has not yet held a confirmation hearing on Ms. Boylan’s nomination.
  • Veteran’s Employment and Training (VETS) chief, Frederico Juarbe Jr, was nominated September 14, 2001, and confirmed by the Senate on November 8, 2001.  President Obama announced on April 19 the nomination of Raymond M. Jefferson to lead VETS.  The Senate HELP Committee has not yet held a confirmation hearing on Mr. Jefferson’s nomination.

Back to the issue of the Solicitor of Labor, Eugene Scalia was nominated on April 30, 2001 for the post, but he was never confirmed by the Senate.  He received a recess appointment in December 2001 to serve as Solicitor.

And for the real history buffs, OSHA Assistant Secretary Eula Bingham was on-the-job in April 1977, about 3 months after President Carter’s inauguration.

To track all of President Obama’s nominations, the White House launched this week a new webpage (here).  You can see who has been nominated and the status of their nomination.  I’ll keep checking it to see when the OSHA and MSHA candidates are nominated, along with my pick to head OSM: Patrick McGinley.

*Note (6/30/09) Thanks to TPH reader Josh for pointing out the error in my original post.  For some reason, Ms. Oates is not yet appearing on the DOL webpage of “key personnel” as the Assistant Secretary.

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