- The Washington Times - Monday, February 1, 2010

Despite a promise that he would not “rush” important votes before Massachusetts Sen.-elect Scott Brown is seated sometime next week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, has scheduled a Monday vote on the contentious nomination of M. Patricia Smith to be solicitor for the Department of Labor.

Mrs. Smith, now New York’s labor commissioner, has come under fire from conservatives and some business groups for the state’s “Wage Watch” program. The project, which started in January 2009, enlisted unions and advocacy groups to visit private businesses, educate employers about labor laws and report potential wage violations to the government.

Sen. Michael B. Enzi, Wyoming Republican, who is the ranking minority member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has put a hold on her nomination and asked President Obama to withdraw his nominee, charging that she gave inconsistent testimony before the panel about the program.

Because of Mr. Enzi’s hold, 60 votes would be required in the Senate to approve a cloture motion and move the nomination to a full floor vote.

Senate Democrats now hold 58 seats, and two independents caucus and vote with the party. But Mr. Brown, who won a special election last month to fill the seat once held by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, will become the 41st vote for Republicans, taking away the Democrats’ supermajority and throwing cloture votes into doubt.

The Senate vote is expected around 5:30 p.m.

The day after Mr. Brown won the Senate seat, Mr. Reid vowed, “We’re not going to rush into anything.” Mr. Brown is staunchly opposed to President Obama’s health-care-overhaul package.

“We’re going to wait until the new senator arrives before we do anything more on health care,” Mr. Reid vowed.

President Obama agreed. “Here’s one thing I know, and I just want to make sure that this is off the table: The Senate certainly shouldn’t try to jam anything through until Scott Brown is seated,” the president told ABC News late last month. “People in Massachusetts spoke. He’s got to be part of that process.”

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