(Reuters) – The US Senate on Wednesday confirmed Seema Nanda, who filled various posts at the US Department of Labor during the Obama administration, as solicitor of [labour] and approved a new five-year term for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission member, Jocelyn Samuels.
The Democrat-led Senate voted 53-46 to confirm Nanda, who was also the chief executive officer of the Democratic National Committee during the Trump administration, and confirmed Samuels by a vote of 52-47.
President Joe Biden’s nomination of Nanda irked some Republicans, who cited inflammatory tweets she had posted during her two-year stint at the DNC, in saying she was too partisan to serve as the Department of Labor’s top legal advisor.
At a confirmation hearing in April, Nanda apologised for the tweets, and disavowed ones that said then-Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, was undermining democracy by confirming Trump-appointed judges, and that Senator Susan Collins of Maine was unsympathetic to victims of sexual assault.
“Tweets can happen very quickly and sometimes they might not be exactly what we’d say if we had a little more deliberative time,” Nanda said at the hearing.
Biden’s choice of Nanda has been praised by Democrats, who have pointed to her ample government experience and track record of advocating for workers’ rights.
Nanda will serve as the third in command at DOL, behind former Boston mayor, Marty Walsh, who was confirmed as secretary of labour in March, and California labour secretary, Julie Su, whose nomination for deputy secretary was approved by the Senate on Monday.
The solicitor of labour is DOL’s chief legal officer, and oversees a staff of about 500 lawyers across the country. The solicitor’s office files lawsuits against employers for violating various federal laws, represents DOL in appeals courts, and provides advice on policy-making.
Before joining the Obama-era DOL, Nanda led the US Department of Justice’s Office of Immigrant and Employee Rights Section, served as a supervisor attorney at the National Labor Relations Board, and worked as an associate in private practice in Seattle. She also was a visiting fellow at Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program.
The confirmation of Samuels to the EEOC, meanwhile, maintains a 3-2 Republican majority at the anti-discrimination agency. Samuels, an expert on LGBT law, who worked at the Obama-era Department of Justice, was first confirmed to the EEOC last September, for a term that expires this month.
Samuels, in a statement released by the EEOC, said she was honoured to serve a full term on the commission.
“It is more important now than ever for our country to work to eradicate employment discrimination, and the EEOC must use all the tools at its disposal to enforce and realize the promise of our civil rights laws,” Samuels said.