"The confirmation of another Cabinet member stalled Thursday because of unpaid taxes after USA TODAY disclosed that the husband of Labor secretary nominee Hilda Solis paid about $6,400 this week to settle numerous tax liens against his business dating to 1993. Solis and her husband, Sam Sayyad, were unaware of liens against his auto repair shop until USA TODAY asked about them Tuesday." White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at the White House briefing yesterday that he didn't think this should hold up Solis' confirmation because the lien was against Solis' husband's business, with which she has no affiliation.
However, the country's "largest labor and Hispanic groups are ratcheting up the confirmation fight over Labor Secretary nominee Hilda Solis, preparing a full-out political and media blitz to get the California Democrat approved and into the Obama cabinet," the Huffington Post reports. 'Enough is enough, the gloves are coming off on Friday,' said one official with the AFL-CIO, outraged over the delays. 'Labor, women's groups, Hispanic groups are opening fire. We worked with Republicans in good faith. Hilda Solis has answered all their questions but they continue to oppose her for partisan ideological reasons.'"
Leon Panetta went largely "unscathed" in yesterday's first hearing for CIA. On waterboarding, "Panetta told the Senate Intelligence Committee he believed the practice was torture and illegal under U.S. law. But he also said CIA employees who used it should not be prosecuted because they had received assurance from the attorney general's office at the time that the practice was legal."
The Washington Post previews Obama's rollout of his Economic Recovery Advisory Board. "The Obama administration today announced a team of outside economic advisers, chaired by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul A. Volcker, to help sculpt a response to the deepening recession. Drawn from corporate, labor and academic circles, the White House Economic Recovery Advisory Board is meant to prevent policy from being made in an 'echo chamber' in Washington, Obama said when announcing the plans last year. The group is modeled after the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board that President Dwight D. Eisenhower used to advise him in the 1950s."
"It seemed like a firm campaign promise," the LA Times writes. "Barack Obama pledged to continue President Bush's faith-based office in the White House, but with a key change: Groups receiving federal money would no longer be allowed to discriminate in hiring on the basis of religion. On Thursday, however, as President Obama disclosed the details of his faith-based program, he left the controversial Bush policy in place. The decision angered Democrats and civil libertarians who thought Obama had agreed with their view that Bush's 2002 executive order went too far."
US News & World Report also notes that the left is angry about this. "'He's leaving all the substantive options and directions open' on the question of faith-based hiring, says Ira Lupu, a George Washington University Law School professor who specializes in church-state issues. 'He's saying, "Let's see what the lawyers tell me."'"
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs yesterday confirmed that Obama will hold his first news conference as president, on Monday at 8:00 pm ET.