For the last couple of months, all the members of the Harris family have been waiting for Congress to approve one of us. He’s my brother, Seth, who was nominated by President Obama to become our next Deputy Secretary of Labor.
I haven’t said anything about it publicly because he was going through the vetting process and a confirmation hearing in the House, and the last thing Seth needed was for me to open my mouth and give some right-wing nutjob a reason to block his nomination. We went through that scenario in the 1990s when Seth worked in the Labor Department as a Special Assistant to both Secretaries Robert Reich and Alexis Herman, but was prevented from ascending to the office of Deputy by one GOP senator who didn’t like something Seth had written in a law review piece many years ago.
For me, it was yet another lesson in why I hate the machinations of politics. For Seth, it was business as usual.
This time around, things were a little easier. He overcame the objections of another GOP senator, who didn’t like a policy put in place by current Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and used Seth’s confirmation hearing as an opportunity to grandstand and show the folks back home that he was on their side — even though Seth had absolutely nothing to do with it, and said so at the hearing. Once the Senator got his C-SPAN moment, he and the rest of the committee gave Seth their vote without objection earlier this week.
A few minutes ago, Seth called to tell me that he had just received approval from the entire United States Senate, which signed off on his nomination under a “unanimous consent” vote. That means he’s been officially confirmed, and on Tuesday morning will be sworn in as Deputy Secretary of Labor and start the job immediately. He’ll essentially be the department’s COO, overseeing 17,000 employees and helping to execute the strategies laid out by the Secretary and the President.
After 9 years of teaching law in New York, this means uprooting his wife and two sons from their life, selling their home in New Jersey and buying a new place in the DC suburbs — but it’s what Seth has wanted for a long time, a return to public service and to Washington, a city he loves.
I couldn’t be prouder of my not-so-little brother.