(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) applauded the confirmation of M. Patricia Smith as the next Solicitor of Labor. Murray had met with Smith, strongly supported her nomination, and had repeatedly urged her colleagues to vote to confirm her. Smith was confirmed today by a vote of 60-37.
“I am very happy that we finally confirmed Patricia Smith as Solicitor of Labor and that she can now get to work serving and protecting America’s workers,” said Senator Patty Murray. “Workers today are facing greater challenges than ever before, and they need strong leaders like Patricia Smith in place at the Department of Labor to look after their interests and fight for their needs.”
Murray spoke on the floor of the Senate on Monday urging her colleague to vote to end debate.
Murray also spoke on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday urging her colleagues to vote to confirm.
Excerpts from Senator Murray’s speech:
“American workers are facing incredible challenges today. They’re struggling with record unemployment and a devastating economic crisis. They need – and deserve – strong leaders in the Department of Labor who are passionate about public service and committed to fighting for them.”
“I know the challenges America’s workers are facing right now. That is why they deserve a Solicitor of Labor like Tricia who will fight every day to protect them.”
“Tricia has a big job ahead of her, but we need to act now to allow her to get started. We owe it to our country’s workers to have a confirmed Solicitor of Labor in place.”
“I have had a number of conversations with Tricia and I am confident that she is highly qualified and eager to get to work. I will be voting to confirm Patricia Smith, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.”
The full text of Senator Murray’s speech follows:
“Mr. President, I am very pleased to rise today in support of President Obama’s nominee to serve as Solicitor of Labor – M. Patricia Smith.
“I am confident that she is the right person for this critical job. And the work she will do to protect our workers is more important now than ever before.
“Mr. President, American workers are facing incredible challenges today. They’re struggling with record unemployment and a devastating economic crisis.
“They need – and deserve – strong leaders in the Department of Labor who are passionate about public service and committed to fighting for them.
“The Department of Labor is charged with a critical mission in our nation’s government. Their role is to foster and promote the welfare of America’s workers by: improving their working conditions, advancing their opportunities for profitable employment, protecting their retirement and health care benefits, helping employers find workers, and strengthening free collective bargaining.
“And Mr. President, I believe that during these challenging economic times it is absolutely critical that the Department has the leadership it needs to make these goals a reality.
“That’s why I was very pleased that President Obama nominated such a strong candidate for the position of Solicitor of Labor.
“M. Patricia Smith has been the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Labor since 2007. She is co-chair of New York State’s Economic Security sub-cabinet, and oversees 3,700 employees in 80 offices with an annual budget of $4 billion.
“For the previous 20 years, Tricia worked in the Labor Bureau of the New York Attorney General’s Office. And, she served on the Obama Administration’s transition review team for the Department of Labor.
“Mr. President, I have received many letters of support for Patricia Harris. From people who admire her work, from people she has worked with, and from workers she has helped.
“I want to take a moment to read some excerpt from these letters, because I believe they demonstrate Patricia’s broad support, and why she deserves to be confirmed.
“I received a letter of support from the CEO of the Plattsburgh, NY Chamber of Commerce, who knows Tricia well:
‘Patricia Smith has been an outstanding partner as Commissioner of the New York State Labor Dept., and will be an outstanding Solicitor for the U.S Labor Department. We strongly encourage her earliest possible confirmation by the Senate.’
“And from the United States Women’s Chamber of Commerce:
‘After learning of Ms. Smith’s qualifications, expertise and the laws she has worked to uphold, I can clearly see that she is someone who would work with conviction to enforce the laws of the United States of America. Additionally, I am impressed with her out-of-the-box thinking in creating programs that will keep jobs. We especially need these attributes in this time of economic challenge.’
“I also received a letter from a group of professors and scholars of labor and employment law and labor relations from over fifty scholars from of highly respected institutions across the country such as Georgetown University Law Center, Columbia Law, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Yale Law School, And Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
“They too urged speedy confirmation, saying that Tricia has:
‘…consistently demonstrated the highest integrity and commitment to ethical standards. She is experienced, intelligent, thoughtful and energetic. We believe this is exactly what the U.S. Department of Labor needs in a Solicitor. Once confirmed, she will be among the best Solicitors of Labor that the Department has known.’
“And her support transcends party lines. Former New York Attorney General Dennis Vacco— a Republican- had this to say about his former employee:
‘Patricia Smith has proven herself as of the foremost experts in the nation in the realm of labor law, which is why President Obama saw fit to nominate her…She was an asset to the New York Attorney General’s Office and I am confident…she will be an asset to the Department of Labor.’
“Mr. President, as Chair of the Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, I know the challenges America’s workers are facing right now.
“That is why they deserve a Solicitor of Labor like Tricia who will fight every day to protect them.
“If confirmed as the Department’s top legal counsel, Tricia will have the profound responsibility of enforcing more than 180 federal laws and managing more than 450 attorneys nationwide.
“She will be responsible for defending the Department in litigation, as well as providing legal advice and guidance on nearly every policy, legislative, regulatory, and enforcement initiative of the Department.
“Most importantly, she will responsible for defending the rights of workers when they aren’t able to speak for themselves.
“Mr. President, Tricia has a big job ahead of her, but we need to act now to allow her to get started.
“We owe it to our country’s workers to have a confirmed Solicitor of Labor in place.
“I have had a number of conversations with Tricia and I am confident that she is highly qualified and eager to get to work.
“I will be voting to confirm Patricia Smith, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.
“Thank you. I yield the floor.”