Hilda Solis
United States Secretary of Labor
Hilda Solis
Hilda Lucia Solis is the 25th United States Secretary of Labor, serving in the Obama administration. She is a member of the Democratic Party and served in the United States House of Representatives from 2001 to 2009, representing the 31st and 32nd congressional districts of California that include East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley. Solis was raised in La Puente, California, by immigrant parents from Nicaragua and Mexico.
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$15,000 reward offered for information in killing of East L.A. father in 2014
LATimes - about 1 month
Andrew Ruben Fierro was listening to music on his headphones moments before he was shot to death outside his in-laws’ East Los Angeles home on Aug. 22, 2014.  Fierro, a 31-year-old truck dispatcher, was double parked in the 200 block of North Arizona Avenue, waiting for his wife to bring their two children outside, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Robert Martindale. It was 9:45 p.m. on a Friday night, and Fierro and his wife had been at the grocery store buying supplies for a family outing to the beach the next day, Martindale said. Then someone walked up to the driver’s side door. It’s not clear if Fierro or the gunman opened the door, Martindale said, but someone began firing into the car, striking Fierro multiple times in the head and torso.  Neighbors heard the gunfire and saw a dark-colored, possibly red compact car driving away southbound from the scene.  The car turned west on First Street and drove out of sight, but investigators found a smashed shell casing at that ...
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LATimes article
The Ethics Problems Plaguing Trump's Cabinet Have Sunk Plenty Of Prior Nominees
Huffington Post - about 1 month
function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); WASHINGTON ― Three of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees for Cabinet positions on Wednesday revealed that they had engaged in illegal or questionable behavior that prior administrations have considered serious enough to necessitate a nominee’s withdrawal. Taken together, the disclosures by Wilbur Ross, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) offered a likely preview of a presidential administration that appears confident in its ability ...
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Huffington Post article
The Disappearing Cabinet: More than a Parlor Game
Huffington Post - 6 months
As a journalist for thirty years, I am embarrassed to admit this, but I can't name the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. No, nor the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Interior, Education, Energy, Transportation, Treasury, Labor, or the head of the EPA. Shame on me. But I draw perverse comfort from knowing few of my fellow journalists, or for that matter, most public-minded citizens, can name them either. I've put them to the test. (Quick, tell me who Hilda Solis is -Answer: Obama's Labor Sec for four years.) Indeed, a few years back, I tried it on a class of Harvard's Nieman Fellows, a distinguished group of mid-career journalists. Most were stumped. So, what gives? A generation ago, there wasn't a self-respecting reporter who could not reel off the names of most cabinet secretaries. It was easy: They were constantly in the papers, their faces on the nightly news. Over the decades, they were part of a highly visible and influential coterie, going back to t ...
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Huffington Post article
40 Under 40: Latinos in Foreign Policy
Huffington Post - over 1 year
Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to recognize the nation's ever-so important growing demographic by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of these leaders for their worldwide achievements. One way to do so is through the Global Diaspora Week which perfectly coincides with Hispanic Heritage Month, thus creating a great opportunity to highlight diverse innovators from one of the nation's largest groups, the Hispanic Diaspora. Another is by admiring the great role models in international affairs such as: Hon. Ariel Pablos-Mendez, Amb. Arnold Chacon, Amb. Carmen Lomellin, Amb. Carolyn Curiel, Deputy Secretary Jaime Areizaga Soto, Amb. Julissa Reynoso, Amb. Lino Gutierrez, Hon. Maria Echaveste, Hon. Maria Otero, Dr. Rebecca Chavez, Amb. Tony Garza and Amb. Vilma Martinez to name a few. They have paved the way for the current generation of rising stars who must now take the mantle and open doors for others because today there are still too few Hispanics in the U.S ...
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Huffington Post article
As We Celebrate National Minority Health Month, Let's Challenge Stigma and Shame
Huffington Post - almost 2 years
April is dedicated to focusing on health care needs and disparities within communities of color in the United States. This month, the Office of Minority Health, a part of the Department of Health and Human Services joins with its partners in raising public awareness about health and health care disparities that continue to affect racial and ethnic minorities and efforts to advance health equity. Latinos in the U.S. have important health care needs that we must make visible, and in April we have the perfect opportunity. One of the issues that rarely gets the attention it deserves is our community's access to reproductive health care. This month, let's look together at the advancements as well as the ongoing reproductive health care needs of Latinos in the U.S. Latinos have consistently been one of the most rapidly growing communities in the United States, with a population that has increased six times since 1970. In that time, we have made massive gains: we have become lawmakers and ...
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Huffington Post article
FBI talked with Solis about Obama fundraiser, consultant says
LATimes - about 3 years
An advisor says the former Labor secretary met agents in November 2012 to talk about an event held in L.A. Federal law bars Cabinet officials from directly raising campaign funds. The FBI spoke with former U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis about her role in a 2012 fundraiser for President Obama, but the candidate for Los Angeles County supervisor believes she did nothing wrong and doesn't know if the inquiry is continuing, her campaign consultant said Monday.     
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LATimes article
Solis faced federal inquiry concerning role in Obama fundraiser
LATimes - about 3 years
The former U.S. Labor secretary is the front-runner for an open seat on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. Former U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, the front-runner for an open seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, faced a federal inquiry concerning her involvement in a fundraiser for President Obama, according to two sources familiar with the case.     
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LATimes article
These Are All The Worst Things About LA, According To 2020 Commission
Huffington Post - about 3 years
Los Angeles has choking traffic, high poverty rates and slow job growth, a new report on the city concludes. Also, locals don't trust City Hall, pension costs are rising and planning documents are outdated. "Los Angeles is barely treading water while the rest of the world is moving forward," the report titled "A Time for Truth" states. The 13-member, 2020 Commission helmed by former U.S. Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor released the much-anticipated document on Wednesday marking the end of a nearly year-long research process. City Council President Herb Wesson requested the report as a way to bring "fresh eyes" to the city's ongoing budget woes. The reaction to the report seemed to mostly be met with the refrain: "So, what else is new?" A handful of local leaders noted it broke little new ground. "I didn't learn anything from this," said Steve Soboroff, Los Angeles Police Commission president. "This is stuff that has been out there." Still, the 20-page report was unsparin ...
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Huffington Post article
Former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis takes Cal Poly Pomona post
LATimes - over 3 years
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis has taken a position as a scholar in residence at Cal Poly Pomona, officials said Thursday.`
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LATimes article
Latinas and Modern Marianismo
Huffington Post - over 3 years
My work around Latina leadership often involves me addressing important factors relating to the cultural context of the Latino community. Often, Latinas want to discuss the influence their Latino upbringing has on their success and obstacles. Time after time, when I speak to audiences, Latinas say the Latino cultural context resonates with them because they are trying to merge two cultures -- the Latino and the American. In my doctoral research, I emphasized the influence of the Marianismo Ideal which was first introduced by Evelyn P. Stevens (1973) and highlighted by Dr. Rosa Gil and Dr. Carmen Inoa-Vazquez in their book The Maria Paradox (1997). The Marianismo Ideal has traditionally focused on Latinas as nurturing women who carry the responsibility of caring for others which can include: immediate and extended family, friends, church and colleagues. What seems to hit home, is trying to master the act of caring for others while working on a career, being active in the community, be ...
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Huffington Post article
Hilda Solis: Immigration reform delays slow job growth
USA Today - over 3 years
Economic considerations are not driving this debate.
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USA Today article
Lee Hernandez: 10 Reasons Every Latino Should Watch Devious Maids on Sunday Night
Huffington Post - over 3 years
By now you've probably heard a million reasons why you shouldn't watch Devious Maids (the new Eva Longoria and Marc Cherry produced dramedy premiering Sunday night on Lifetime), but I'm here to tell you 10 reasons you should watch it -- especially if you're Latino! While I respect the opinion of those in the community who believe the show reinforces Latino stereotypes, I had a very different reaction to the show when I watched it this week on Lifetime.com (the pilot is already available online). First of all, I was floored by the great performances from Ana Ortiz, Dania Ramirez and the rest of the ensemble. I got goose-bumps when I saw the names of four Latinas I respect greatly listed in the opening credits as the show's four leads (the last time that happened? Never!). I laughed and (almost) cried. I'm glad I gave Devious Maids a chance, because if I hadn't, I'd be missing out on a great show. And I want all Latinos to give the show a chance like I did, so I wrot ...
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Huffington Post article
Turkey Sees Future in Asia With Joining SOC
Voice of America - almost 4 years
Frustrated in its attempt to join the European Union, NATO-member Turkey last week signed up as a partner with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the security bloc dominated by China and Russia that includes the Central Asian states. But, Ankara still has major differences with China and Russia that need to be ironed out.   Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu described the signing of the SCO cooperation agreement as an historic day for his country, saying Turkey is the ...
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Voice of America article
What Low Unemployment Rates For Latinos Really Mean
Huffington Post - almost 4 years
The U.S. employment report released Friday shows the Latino unemployment rate in April dropped to 9.0 percent, down from 9.2 in March. The latest unemployment rate for Latinos is the lowest it has been since November 2008, when it reached 8.6 percent, though it still trails behind the national average. Nationwide, the unemployment rate came to a four-year low of 7.5 percent in April after employers added 165,000 jobs. That’s down from 7.6 percent in March, according to data released Friday by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate was 5.1 percent for Asians, 6.7 percent for whites and 13.2 for blacks. Latest Latino unemployment rate is not all good news Some would argue that the recent decrease in the Latino unemployment rate indicates Latinos are starting to find jobs again, after being hit hard by the recent recession. But Alicia Criado, policy associate with the economic and employment policy project at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR ...
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Huffington Post article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Hilda Solis
  • 2016
    Age 58
    She said a priority for 2016 would be "to reaffirm our commitment to our diverse county family – to make this family, our family, inclusive for everybody, no matter their background, no matter where they come from, no matter how far down the scale they have been."
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    In February 2016 she praised Governor Jerry Brown for finally increasing state funds for the cleanup, saying "Our voices were heard.
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  • 2015
    Age 57
    The budget here is $26 billion, much more than what I was used to in D.C." In December 2015 Solis took over as Chair of the Supervisors, a position which is rotated on a yearly basis.
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  • 2014
    Age 56
    Solis won the seat on June 4, 2014, garnering 70 percent of the vote against two other opponents.
    More Details Hide Details The margin meant she won the seat outright and would not need to run in a runoff election. As Supervisor for District 1, she was at the forefront of the response to the Exide lead contamination issue, which affected Vernon and several other communities within her purview and which touched upon her past concerns with environmental justice. The Supervisors allocated some county money for cleanup, with Solis saying, "the state continues to drag its feet". Going to the state capitol and asking for additional funds to remedy the situation, she said, "This has gone on too long."
    On April 5, 2014, Solis formally announced the start of her campaign for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors seat, with the election to be held on June 3.
    More Details Hide Details By this time she had raised over $600,000 for her effort and was considered the favorite to win the contest. News of the federal investigation had little effect on her campaign.
    Solis's departure from the Labor Department was linked to an interest in running for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 2014, when incumbent Gloria Molina would be term-limited.
    More Details Hide Details She also said she wanted to rest, reconnect with her local community after twelve years in Washington, and spend time with her now 87-year-old mother.
  • 2013
    Age 55
    In November 2013, Solis became a scholar-in-residence at her alma mater of Cal Poly Pomona. Her duties were to include guest lecturing in classes, mentoring students, and assisting in curriculum development, with a focus in political science. During early 2014, reports emerged that the United States Office of Special Counsel, the United States Department of Justice, and the FBI had begun investigating Solis during 2012 for possible violations of fundraising rules by federal officials during her time as Labor Secretary.
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    Later during January 2013, Solis confirmed her interest in the County Board of Supervisors race, saying "I'm going to take a look at it."
    More Details Hide Details In explaining why a former U.S. Representative and Cabinet member would be interested in a county-level body, analysts stated that the board is the most powerful county-level legislative body in the United States, and exercises some executive and quasi-judicial powers as well. It controls a workforce larger than the Labor Department's and its $26 billion budget is equivalent to that of an average U.S. state. Each member presiding over some two million constituents, three times that of Solis' old congressional district, and that it is quite possibly the fourth most powerful position in California politics, after Governor, U.S. Senator, and Mayor of Los Angeles. The supervisors have long been nicknamed "the five little kings".
    Her last day in office was January 22, 2013.
    More Details Hide Details Solis, who had never become part of the inner circle of presidential advisors, said it had been a difficult decision and Obama praised her work as secretary. Reflecting upon her tenure, Solis generally garnered praise from labor unions and leading Democrats for her stricter enforcement of job safety regulations and more aggressive pursuit of wage and hour violators. Other leaders and analysts in the labor field thought her performance as secretary was underwhelming, with minimal public visibility and no memorable legacy left behind. All agreed that she operated in a difficult political environment, with the effects of the Great Recession still being felt, Republicans staunchly opposed to labor-based initiatives, and the Obama administration's attentions focused elsewhere. Business groups, meanwhile, continued to characterize her as having been uncooperative in her dealings with them.
    On January 9, 2013, Solis tendered her resignation as Secretary of Labor, becoming one of several Cabinet members deciding not to stay on for Obama's second term.
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  • 2012
    Age 54
    Allegations were made that Solis solicited subordinates for funds for the 2012 re-election campaign of President Obama.
    More Details Hide Details A spokesperson for Solis said that she believed she had done nothing wrong. The matter was also being looked into by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and its chair, Representative Darrell Issa, who said there was evidence supporting the allegations. By early 2016, no further word had emerged on any of these investigations.
    In October 2012, Solis defended the work of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, after the Current Population Survey it puts out monthly reported that unemployment in the United States had fallen below eight percent for this first time since Obama took office.
    More Details Hide Details Some critics, including former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, charged that the number had been tampered with in order to benefit Obama one month before the U.S. presidential election. Solis said, "I'm insulted when I hear that because we have a very professional, civil service organization where you have top, top economists that work at the BLS. They've been doing these calculations. These are our best trained and best-skilled individuals working in the BLS, and it's really ludicrous to hear that kind of statement." For the year, the Labor Department set a record for the most back pay it had ever collected due to wage violations, $280 million going to some 300,000 workers. Workplace fatalities in construction and general industrial sectors reached an all-time low.
  • 2010
    Age 52
    In the wake of the April 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine disaster in West Virginia, the worst in the U.S. in forty years, Solis announced that the Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration would conduct an internal review of its enforcement of the Massey Energy mine prior to the accident.
    More Details Hide Details She also requested that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health provide an independent analysis of that review. (By the end of her tenure, however, some safety experts said she had fallen short of getting any meaningful new regulatory scheme in place in the wake of the disaster.) Later that month, Solis and the department hosted the first-ever meeting of the G-20 labor ministers; they discussed how to accelerate job creation in their respective countries. Solis also faced disgruntlement from a local of the American Federation of Government Employees representing her own employees, who were unhappy that a longstanding flextime program reduced under the George W. Bush administration had not been restored. The department said the program was modern and fair and that it was part of ongoing contract negotiations with the local. The year also saw the department trying to crack down on firms that illegally use summer internships for free labor, by clarifying what may constitute an unpaid academic internship; the move brought resistance from universities. The year additionally saw Solis leading an administration campaign against farmers who employed children or underpaid workers. (Proposed new rules in this area were dropped in 2012, however, following adamant criticism from conservatives and agricultural groups.)
    For 2010, Solis's agenda was to enact some ninety new rules and regulations intended to grant more power to unions and to workers.
    More Details Hide Details Whether Solis would try to revive Clinton administration ergonomics rules that had been discarded in the early days of the Bush administration, and that business groups continued to oppose, was unclear.
  • 2009
    Age 51
    In July 2009, she expressed concern about workplace deaths among Hispanics, which she said they were especially vulnerable to (her continuing attention to issues such as this during her tenure would lead to Hispanic workers considering her their champion).
    More Details Hide Details In October 2009, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration levied the largest fine in its history on BP plc for failing to fix safety problems following the 2005 Texas City Refinery disaster. Business groups such as the National Federation of Independent Business complained that Solis was forging a less cooperative relationship, one that departed from the Bush administration's "compliance assistance" approach; the Labor Department said that compliance assistance was still an important part of the new strategy.
    In late May 2009, Solis suspended immigrant guest worker regulations related to H‑2A visas adopted in the final days of the Bush administration; the move earned plaudits from the United Farm Workers.
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    In late March 2009, Solis vowed to add 250 investigators to the department's Wage and Hour Division after a Government Accountability Office report showed the division's enforcement of wage laws was quite inadequate; the staffing up was completed by the end of the year.
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    In her first days as secretary, Solis affirmed an extension to unemployment benefits specified by the 2009 Obama stimulus package, and joined Vice President Biden's Middle Class Task Force.
    More Details Hide Details In her first major speech as secretary, Solis pleased community forum attendees at Miami's Greater Bethel AME Church by vowing more aggressive enforcement of workplace protection laws, saying "You can rest assured that there is a new sheriff in town."
    After still further delays, Republicans agreed not to subject her nomination to a filibuster and on February 24, 2009, Solis was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 80–17.
    More Details Hide Details She resigned from the House and was sworn into her new position that evening. (A ceremonial swearing in featuring Vice President Joe Biden was later held on March 13.) Solis became the first Hispanic woman to serve as a regular U.S. cabinet secretary and the first cabinet secretary with Central American descent. She also became the first Hispanic Secretary of Labor. Solis felt that under the George W. Bush administration, the department had become unimportant and lacking in power, and that its actions reflected a pro-business agenda. Accordingly, she hoped to reinvigorate it.
    On February 11, 2009, the committee approved her nomination by voice vote with two votes opposed.
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    She took office after being confirmed by the United States Senate in February 2009, becoming the first Hispanic woman to serve in the U.S. Cabinet.
    More Details Hide Details There she focused on workplace safety issues and on strengthening compliance with wage and hour laws. In January 2013, Solis stepped down from her post as Labor Secretary. Returning to the area of her upbringing, in April 2014, Solis formally announced a campaign for a seat on the non-partisan Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Solis won the seat outright in a June 3 election and was sworn in on December 1. Solis was born in Los Angeles, California, as the daughter of immigrant parents who had met in citizenship class and married in 1953: Juana Sequeira (b. 1926, from Nicaragua) and Raul Solis (from Mexico). Her father was a Teamsters shop steward in Mexico and, after coming to the United States, worked at the Quemetco battery recycling plant in the City of Industry in the San Gabriel Valley. There he again organized for the Teamsters, to gain better health care benefits for workers, but also contracted lead poisoning. Her mother worked for over 20 years on the assembly line of Mattel once her children were all of school age, belonged to the United Rubber Workers, and was outspoken about working conditions. She stressed the importance of education and was a devout Roman Catholic.
    Solis's confirmation hearings were held on January 9, 2009, before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
    More Details Hide Details Committee chair Ted Kennedy repeatedly praised her, while, despite examination by Republican members, Solis declined to discuss specific policy issues, including the Employee Free Choice Act. Several days later, Senate Republicans said they might try to put a procedural hold on her nomination because of her unwillingness to answer questions in detail in the hearings. By January 23, a secret hold was placed on the nomination by an anonymous Republican. A series of written questions and responses between Republican members and Solis followed, during which she was more forthcoming. Republican Mike Enzi pressed her on whether her unpaid high-level positions at American Rights at Work constituted prohibited lobbying activity; Solis denied violation of rules of conduct and stated she had not helped lobbying. Solis did acknowledge that she had failed to report those positions on her annual House financial disclosure forms at the time, which a White House spokesperson argued was an unintentional oversight. On February 2, Obama appointed veteran Labor Department official Edward C. Hugler as Acting Secretary. The prolonged process was considered by some Republican aides to be a preview of future battles on labor issues between the Obama administration and Republicans in Congress.
    Solis previously served as the 25th United States Secretary of Labor from 2009 to 2013, as part of the administration of President Barack Obama.
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  • 2008
    Age 50
    On December 18, 2008, sources close to the Obama transition team identified Solis as the President-elect's choice for U.S. Secretary of Labor, the last cabinet position yet to be filled.
    More Details Hide Details The selection earned praise from the AFL-CIO and other labor organizations, but was not well received by business groups and the anti-union group Center for Union Facts. The official announcement was made by Obama on December 19. Solis's successor was chosen in a special election in California's 32nd congressional district; she declined to endorse a candidate in the primary (from which her past mentee Judy Chu emerged on top and eventually won the general election).
    Solis did not become wealthy from her political career; by 2008, she and her husband's main assets consisted of retirement funds and his auto shop, valued at under $100,000.
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    Solis was a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential bid; when that fell short, Barack Obama aggressively sought her support, as part of strengthening his appeal to Hispanic voters.
    More Details Hide Details She supported Clinton's effort to establish a U.S. Public Service Academy and was a co-sponsor of a House bill to create one.
    In December 2008, President-elect Barack Obama announced his intention to nominate Solis as the next U.S. Secretary of Labor.
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  • 2006
    Age 48
    However, during 2006 and 2007, Solis was part of a falling out between several female representatives and Joe Baca, leader of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, arguing there was a "lack of respect afforded to women members of the Hispanic Caucus," which Baca denied.
    More Details Hide Details She had previously broken ties with the caucus' political action committee over its campaign contributions to Baca's sons. Baca responded that Solis "was a kiss-up" to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a remark for which he later apologized. Solis was indeed considered a close ally of Pelosi, which helped her get a seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee. She considered running for the position of Democratic Caucus Vice-Chairman for the 110th Congress, but deferred to incumbent John Larson after Rahm Emanuel chose to run for caucus chair, which Larson had been running for. Solis's aggressive fundraising for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee gained her a vice chair position on the Democratic Steering & Policy Committee. At the time of her selection to Obama's cabinet, she had been elected 2nd vice chair of the Hispanic Caucus and was considered a potential candidate for a leadership position in the House.
    From 2006 to 2008 she wrote blog entries for The Huffington Post.
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  • 2005
    Age 47
    She received 100 percent ratings from several pro-labor groups for the years 2005 through 2007, and was a major recipient of union political donations.
    More Details Hide Details United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta is one of Solis's role models. During her tenure in the House Solis was an advocate of comprehensive immigration reform. She was one of the leading opponents of H.R. 4437 a House bill sponsored by Wisconsin Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner and voted against it. Solis supported legislation aimed at reducing the number of teen pregnancies within Latina and African American communities and sponsored a bill, that became law in 2003, that granted U.S. citizenship to immigrants after one year of military service instead of the previous three years. Solis is Roman Catholic and pro-choice. Along with 47 other Catholic members of Congress, she sent a letter to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., in order to dissuade him from refusing them the sacraments because of their pro-choice legislative voting. Solis signed a "Statement of Principles," stating her commitment to her faith as well as her disagreement with the Roman Catholic Church on some issues. They stated that on those issues, such as abortion rights, they decided to follow their conscience instead of the Church teachings.
  • 2004
    Age 46
    Solis was not a member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, but championed the Employee Free Choice Act and was the only member of Congress on the board of American Rights at Work, a pro-union organization that strongly supports the act, for whom she served as treasurer starting in 2004.
    More Details Hide Details On trade she voted against both the Dominican Republic–Central America trade agreement and the U.S.-Peru trade agreement, and also expressed opposition to a purposed bilateral U.S.-Colombia trade agreement, citing concerns about human rights violations. Solis opposed legislation that would soften job safety requirements.
  • 2003
    Age 45
    In 2003 she sponsored legislation that funded a National Park Service study to designate a large swath of the Angeles National Forest, the Puente and Chino Hills, and the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel River, a National Recreation Area. (In 2013, after Solis had left the Obama administration, the Park Service recommended proceeding with a greatly reduced version of the original proposal; while other advocates evinced disappointment, Solis said it was still a positive step and that Congress could expand the area in whatever legislation it undertook.)
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  • 2002
    Age 44
    She was reelected for additional terms in 2002, 2004, and 2006 by very large margins, twice with no Republican in opposition.
    More Details Hide Details She ran unopposed in 2008. Solis chaired the Health and the Environment Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus during the 110th Congress.
  • 2000
    Age 42
    By May, she was co-sponsoring legislation to rescind the change and restore the higher occupancy requirement, which passed and took effect in July 2000.
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    She defeated the incumbent Martínez in the March 2000 Democratic primary by a 69 percent to 31 percent margin.
    More Details Hide Details On primary night, Martínez called Solis "obnoxious" and accused her of untruthful advertising. He subsequently switched to the Republican Party, and urged Latinos to vote against her, to no great effect. Without a Republican opponent in the general election, Solis beat three little-known challengers from third parties and won 79 percent of the vote. Upon arriving in the House of Representatives, Solis was named freshman class whip, making her responsible for collecting votes from first-term Democrats. National Journal magazine named her one of its "Ten Freshmen to Watch", and said that her election "is a sign of things to come in California and a generational changing of the guard in the Hispanic Caucus". Solis commissioned for her new office a painting of the United States Capitol with the San Gabriel Mountains behind it, so that she would not forget her roots. Her Washington apartment was tiny.
    Term limits would have prevented Solis from seeking reelection to the State Senate. After months of deliberation, she decided to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000 against 18-year incumbent Matthew G. Martínez in the 31st congressional district, which consisted largely of working class Hispanics and Asians.
    More Details Hide Details This action was criticized by Hispanics and others, and only two members of Congress, Barbara Boxer and Loretta Sanchez, supported her. Martínez was more conservative than many of his constituents, as he had supported the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), opposed gun control, and supported bans on specific abortion procedures. He was also criticized for lacking effort and neglecting his district. Solis was able to obtain the support of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor (which called her a "warrior for working families"), Emily's List, Handgun Control Incorporation, the Sierra Club and the California League of Conservation Voters. With their help, Solis outspent Martínez by a 4-to-1 margin and had hundreds of volunteers working for her.
    Due to her work in overcoming obstacles for environmental justice, in 2000 Solis was given the Profile in Courage Award by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, and was praised as "a politician who hasn't shied away from challenging the old boy network both within and without the Latino community".
    More Details Hide Details She was the first woman to win the award, and gained appearances in George and People magazines and on the Today show. Art Torres, who had become California Democratic Party chair, said of Solis, "She's going to be a national star".
    Solis defeated a long-time Democratic incumbent as part of getting elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, where she focused mainly on labor causes and environmental work.
    More Details Hide Details She was reelected easily to four subsequent terms.
  • 1999
    Age 41
    Solis faced controversy with her 1999 legislation, SB 63, that lowered the carpool restrictions on the El Monte Busway from three or more occupants to two or more.
    More Details Hide Details When this took effect in January 2000, it quickly resulted in greatly increased volume on the busway and protests from bus riders and prior carpoolers. Solis at first defended the change, but it continued to have a detrimental effect on the busway and did not improve flow in the regular traffic lanes.
    She returned in 1999 with a weakened measure, which was signed by Governor Gray Davis.
    More Details Hide Details Calling for "the fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws", it represented the first legislation of its kind in the nation and is considered a landmark.
  • 1998
    Age 40
    She was reelected in 1998 with 74 percent of the vote.
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    She was the first Hispanic woman to serve in the State Senate, and was reelected there in 1998.
    More Details Hide Details Solis sought to pass environmental justice legislation. She was the first female recipient of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2000.
  • 1997
    Age 39
    In 1997, she worked to pass environmental justice legislation with a law to protect low-income and minority communities from newly located landfills, pollution sources, and other environmental hazards in neighborhoods that already had such sites.
    More Details Hide Details She got the bill, SB 1113, approved over the strong opposition of various business interests, water contractors, and some state government agencies, but Wilson vetoed it.
  • 1995
    Age 37
    Solis held high-profile hearings on labor law enforcement following a summer 1995 sweatshop raid in El Monte that discovered more than 70 Thai workers existing in slave-like conditions.
    More Details Hide Details She called garment manufacturers to explain themselves and pushed for tougher enforcement of anti-sweatshop laws. Republican State Senator Ray Haynes later said that Solis was "a committed liberal in the pockets of labor", but Republican State Senate Leader Rob Hurtt said of her, "We obviously didn't see eye to eye. But she was respectful. I'll give her credit; she was a very hard worker and she knew her stuff." Solis was an environmental activist in the State Senate, due to concerns that stemmed from a childhood spent within smelling distance of the Puente Hills Landfill and making frequent visits to the San Gabriel Mountains.
    In 1995 she sponsored a bill to raise the minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.75; it was strongly opposed by business organizations and the restaurant industry.
    More Details Hide Details When Governor Pete Wilson vetoed it, she organized a successful drive to make the issue into a ballot initiative the next year, using $50,000 of her own campaign funds and rallying union support. The initiative's passing garnered her a statewide reputation and other states followed with similar initiatives. She chaired the labor committee and established herself as loyal to labor interests, but made a point of establishing relationships with Republicans on the committee.
  • 1994
    Age 36
    Solis ran for the seat, won the Democratic primary with 63 percent of the vote against two opponents, and then won the 1994 general election with 63 percent of the vote against Republican Dave Boyer's 33 percent.
    More Details Hide Details She became the first Hispanic woman to ever serve in the State Senate and the first woman ever to represent the San Gabriel Valley; she was also the Senate's youngest member at that time.
    The Democratic incumbent in Solis's 24th State Senate district, Art Torres, gave up his office when he received the 1994 Democratic nomination for the statewide office of California Insurance Commissioner.
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  • 1992
    Age 34
    In the June 1992 Democratic primary to fill the open seat, Solis's opponents had the endorsement of powerful State Assemblyman Richard Polanco and the former incumbent.
    More Details Hide Details Solis had the support of Molina and U.S. Representative Barbara Boxer, in an effort that focused on door-to-door campaigning and featured Solis's mother making burritos for campaign volunteers. Solis came out on top of a three-way Democratic race, receiving 49 percent of the vote and besting her nearest competitor, future Assemblyman Ed Chavez, who received 31 percent. In the general election, Solis garnered 61 percent of the vote against Republican Gary Woods' 34 percent, and gained election to the Assembly. She was one of seven Latinos who won election to the Assembly in the wake of the redistricting and became collectively known as Los Siete. Solis was among the most liberal of this ideologically diverse group. In her one term in the State Assembly, Solis was prominent in the debate on illegal immigration to the United States, backing a bill to allow immigrants in the United States illegally to attend California colleges as long as they were residing in the state. She backed labor and opposed the tobacco industry in supporting a bill that banned smoking in all workplaces. She served on committees dealing with education, labor, and environmental issues, including a new committee that dealt with groundwater contamination and landfill leakage. She was not known as a strong orator.
  • 1991
    Age 33
    Solis had the opportunity to run for the California State Assembly when, after California's 1991 redistricting, the incumbent Dave Elder in Solis's 57th State Assembly district was shifted into another district, while her new representative retired.
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    She gained added political visibility in 1991 when she was named to the Los Angeles County Commission on Insurance by Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, a political mentor.
    More Details Hide Details Solis also served as chief of staff for State Senator Art Torres.
  • 1989
    Age 31
    She was reelected in 1989.
    More Details Hide Details During her time on the board, she worked towards improved vocational job training at the college and sought to increase the number of tenured faculty positions held by minorities and women. She joined several California chambers of commerce, women's organizations, and Latino organizations.
  • 1985
    Age 27
    Friends urged her to try for elective office, and so in 1985, she ran for the Board of Trustees of the Rio Hondo Community College District.
    More Details Hide Details She campaigned hard and overtook an incumbent and one other better established candidate to become the top placer.
  • 1982
    Age 24
    Returning to California, Solis became Director of the California Student Opportunity and Access Program in 1982, to help disadvantaged youth gain necessary preparation for college.
    More Details Hide Details In particular, she worked with the Whittier Union High School District.
  • 1981
    Age 23
    At the start of the Reagan administration in 1981, she became a management analyst at the civil rights division of the Office of Management and Budget, but her dislike for Ronald Reagan's policies motivated her to leave later that year.
    More Details Hide Details In Washington, she met Sam H. Sayyad, whom she subsequently married. He owns an automobile repair center in Irwindale, California. The couple lives in a modest house in El Monte, California, not far from where she grew up.
  • 1980
    Age 22
    Solis served near the end of the Carter administration in the White House Office of Hispanic Affairs, where she was editor-in-chief of a newsletter during a 1980–1981 Washington semester internship as part of her master's program.
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  • 1979
    Age 21
    She graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science.
    More Details Hide Details She then earned a Master of Public Administration degree at the University of Southern California in 1981.
  • 1957
    Born on October 20, 1957.
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