Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hilda Solis: In Her Own Words

Short Biography

First elected in 2000, Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis is serving her fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. She represents California's 32nd Congressional District, which includes portions of East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley. Prior to her election to Congress, Solis served eight years in the California state legislature. In August 2000, Solis became the first woman to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for her pioneering work on environmental justice issues in California.

In 2003, she became the first Latina appointed to the powerful Committee on Energy and Commerce where she is the Vice Chair of the Environment and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee and a member of the Health and Telecommunications Subcommittees. She is also a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources. In March 2007, Solis was named a member of the newly created House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

Solis is Vice Chair of the Democratic Steering & Policy Committee and serves as a Senior Whip, as well as a Regional Whip for Southern California. She is also serving her third term as the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' Task Force on Health and the Environment.

In 2007, Solis was appointed to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as the MexicoUnited States Interparliamentary Group.

Labor and Employment Issues

Extending Unemployment Benefits
In parts of the 32nd Congressional District, the unemployment rate has reached nine percent and families are facing increasingly tough economic times. In June, 2008 I voted for and strongly support the 13-week extension of unemployment benefits for workers who have lost their jobs in our nation’s struggling economy (Public Law 110-252). The extension of unemployment benefits provides a helping hand to working families as they try to make ends meet with rising food and energy costs. Extending unemployment benefits is a cost-effective and fast-acting economic stimulus, since every $1 spent generates $1.73 in new economic demand.
Increasing the Federal Minimum Wage
Throughout my career, I have been a staunch advocate for increasing the federal minimum wage. As a California State Senator in 1996, I led the fight to increase California's minimum wage to $5.75. In the U.S. House, I cosponsored the Fair Minimum Wage Act (H.R. 2), an important piece of the “first 100 hours” legislation that the new Democratic majority successfully passed. In May of 2007, the federal minimum wage increase to $7.25/hour was signed into law (Public Law 110-28), fulfilling our promise to working families across the nation.
Defending Workers’ Rights to Organize
I am a strong supporter of workers' rights and cosponsored the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800). This vital legislation strengthens the right to organize and opposes any effort to dismantle the 40-hour work week and the overtime requirements provided under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The new Democratic majority in the House successfully passed this critical piece of legislation and it is pending consideration in the U.S. Senate.
Securing Federal Funds for “Green Collar” Jobs
I am a strong supporter of increased investment in “green collar” jobs. A major national investment in renewable energy could create 3 million green collar jobs over a 10 year period. These jobs include green building, energy efficiency retrofit and service, and renewable energies such as wind, solar and biofuels. I was proud to author legislation to provide $125 million for green collar job training. This legislation was included in H.R. 6, the historic energy reform bill passed by the Congress and signed into law by the President on December 19, 2007 (Public Law 110-140). This training will help address job shortages that are impairing growth in green industries and also create a Pathways Out of Poverty program through job training in underserved communities. Through targeted job training efforts, we can support both our nation’s innovation and technological leadership and lift people out of poverty.
Honoring Labor Leaders
I am proud to have authored legislation to recognize prolific labor leaders. Legislation I authored to authorize the Department of Interior to study the lands important in the life of Cesar Estrada Chavez became law in May, 2008 (Public Law 110-229). I also introduced a resolution to honor Dolores Huerta and her commitment to the improvement of labor conditions for farmworker families and the rights of women and children (H.Res. 37).
Supporting Fair Trade, Not Free Trade
Throughout my career I have worked to end sweatshop conditions at home and abroad and protect American jobs. I strongly oppose any trade agreement which does not include strong labor, environmental, and human rights protections. I voted to suspend fast track procedures for the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), because of workers rights violations and other human rights issues in Colombia. I also voted against the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and granting the President “Fast Track” trade negotiating authority because it will further the loss of family-supporting jobs to nations where corporations routinely exploit workers and the environment.
Preventing Workplace Injuries
I am fighting for safer and healthier working conditions for all employees. I am a strong supporter and cosponsor of the Protecting America’s Workers Act (H.R. 2049). This legislation increases penalties against employers for worker safety violations, enhances protections for whistleblowers, and mandates that employers pay for personal protective equipment that keeps workers safe. In addition, I support increased funding for the U.S. Department of Labor to combat poor working environments, especially sweatshop activity in the U.S. and abroad.
Eliminating Corporate Corruption
Serious corporate fraud and mismanagement has resulted in massive layoffs. I support reforms to put workers first, hold CEOs accountable, put integrity back in to corporations and the capital markets, and end corporate corruption of politics.

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