President Bush Friday nominated outgoing Rep. Lynn Martin, R-Ill., to replace Elizabeth Dole as labor secretary and as the only woman in his Cabinet.
In announcing the action at the White House, Bush described Martin as a "devoted public servant and a cherished friend" and said he looks forward to having her "at my side on labor matters as we enter the decade of the 1990s."The nomination is subject to Senate confirmation and drew a swift and negative reaction from the AFL-CIO, the nation's largest labor federation with more than 14 million members.
AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland charged that Martin's voting record during a decade in Congress "has not reflected a sensitivity to the needs of workers."
An AFL-CIO scorecard shows that she voted "right" just 29 percent of the time on labor-related measures. Kirkland said the union is "deeply interested in her views as to the appropriate role of the Labor Department."
Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said, "I commend Lynn Martin on her nomination and I look forward to the confirmation hearings," which will be held by his Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee.
Kennedy said, "The Labor Department needs a strong secretary who is willing to stand up for hard-pressed families against a constant pro-business tilt of the White House."
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Friday he is "thrilled" with the president's selection. "Lynn knows the issues, the Congress and the department. She brings with her an open, candid style and will be an excellent addition to the Cabinet. She is a good friend, and I look forward to working with her."
The AFL-CIO had been a supporter of Dole, whom it viewed as a friend. She resigned as labor secretary in October to become head of the American Red Cross.
Dole had been the only woman in the Bush Cabinet, and after she resigned the White House promptly floated the names of two women as possible successors - Martin and Constance Newman, director of the Office of Personnel Management.
Martin, 50, became a top candidate when she was defeated in her Nov. 6 bid to unseat Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill. The White House had urged the five-term congresswoman to challenge Simon.
Bush, in nominating Martin, said, "She is a mother who knows the need for child care. She is a professional who understands the business-labor relationship."
"And as a congresswoman, she spent years dealing with the concerns and aspirations of the working Americans from every walk of life."
Martin said in a statement: "To be nominated as secretary of labor is a high honor. I am grateful to the president for his confidence and support."
She had also been considered to replace Lauro Cavazos, who quit under pressure Wednesday as education secretary. Other candidates for that job include two former governors, Thomas Keane of New Jersey and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.
The nomination appeared to come as somewhat of a surprise to the congresswoman. Her office had no prepared statement and she is to see Bush at the White House on Monday. A date for her confirmation hearings was not set.
Secretary of labor nominee
Here, at a glance, is a look at Rep. Lynn Martin, R-Ill., named Friday by President Bush as the next labor secretary.
Married: To Harry D. Leinenweber, a federal judge, in January 1987.
Children: Two, from a previous marriage. Her husband has five from an earlier marriage.
Home: Loves Park, Ill.
Education: Bachelor's degree, University of Illinois, 1960.
Professional background: High school economics, government and English teacher, 1960-69; Winnebago County Board, 1972-76; Illinois House, 1977-79; Illinois Senate, 1979-81; U.S. House, 1980-90.
Congressional committee: Rules Committee; ranking member on the panel's Legislative Process Subcommittee.