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Herman Wins Confirmation As Labor Secretary


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 30) -- The Senate easily confirmed Alexis Herman as secretary of Labor today, ending four months of wrangling over her nomination.

After cutting a deal with the Clinton Administration over a disputed labor issue, senators quickly scheduled a vote this afternoon and approved Herman, 85-13.

"I want to thank the Senate for its strong show of support for Alexis Herman," President Bill Clinton said in a statement. "There was never any question that she was highly qualified to be secretary of Labor."

Despite the lengthy delay on her nomination, it's probable few senators would dispute Clinton's assessment. Herman's nomination first went afoul after revelations surfaced that she, as head of the White House Office of Public Liaison, had helped plan a controversial White House coffee which included the comptroller of the currency.

Republicans next stalled Herman's nomination in an attempt to stop an executive order instructing government agencies to favor unionized firms for construction contracts. To force a vote on Herman's nomination, Democrats began blocking all but the most important Senate bills.

"We've known now for some time that the delay in confirming Ms. Herman had little to do with her qualifications," Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) told reporters.


Conceding as much, Oklahoma Republican Don Nickles said, "I didn't have a problem with Alexis Herman being secretary of Labor. My purpose was to make sure that the administration does not try to legislate by executive order."

Though the president still plans to issue a presidential memorandum on the union issue, which he claims will have the same "substantive effect" as an executive order, business groups are declaring victory.

"This clearly is a decisive victory for the American taxpayers, for all construction workers and the American business community," U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Bruce Josten told The Associated Press.

At Labor, Herman replaces Robert Reich, who has taken a teaching position at Brandeis University.

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