Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Mike Enzi (R-WYO) announced yesterday that the scheduled Thursday vote by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to confirm the nomination of Hilda Solis as Labor Secretary would be postponed and rescheduled for a later, as yet unannounced, date.

According to a press statement issued by Kennedy, the committee chair, and Enzi, the ranking minority member: “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.”

The press is speculating that Solis’s nomination, resisted by some Senate Republicans for her pronounced pro-union policy positions, could be in trouble. The delay in confirming her has been specifically attributed to a disclosure that Solis' husband paid $6,400 yesterday to settle a tax lien.

In a sign that the Obama administration could be bracing for a lengthy fight over the Secretary of Labor appointment, this past Monday Edward C. Hugler was announced by the administration as acting secretary of labor.

According to Hugler’s biography on the Department of Labor web site, Hugler’s 32-year career with the Department of Labor includes “front-line agency program management and more than ten years as a lawyer in the Office of the Solicitor. Most recently, he was deputy assistant secretary for operations in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (OASAM), since April 2000.”

Here, Hugler was responsible for day-to-day management of department-level activities in the areas of information technology, human resources, civil rights, and general business services, including procurement, space, and employee safety. These management support services are delivered through some 330 national office staff in the Frances Perkins Building and approximately 280 staff in six federal regions, according to the bio.

Hugler held several top management positions in the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) beginning in 1988, including deputy assistant secretary from 1991—1997. As deputy assistant secretary, he managed the full range of day-to-day operations for this front-line enforcement agency with some 2,000 staff stationed around the country and a budget of more than $200 million. He has, according to his bio, “substantial experience with major enforcement actions, accident investigations, rulemakings and Congressional oversight. “