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Labor Secretary Hilda Solis Announces Her Resignation

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis is resigning, opening up one more slot in President Obama's second-term administration. A former member of Congress, Solis was the first Hispanic woman to head a Cabinet-level agency.

"This afternoon, I submitted my resignation to President Obama," she wrote in a letter to her agency's employees. "Growing up in a large Mexican-American family in La Puente, California, I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to serve in a president's Cabinet, let alone in the service of such an incredible leader."

Solis said that in the future, she plans to return to California.

Prior to becoming Labor Secretary, Solis was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2000, she became the first woman to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, for her work on environmental justice while serving in the California state Senate.

In October, Solis was moved to defend her agency's work, after a closely watched indicator — the U.S. jobless rate — fell to 7.8 percent. The news, which came one month before the presidential election, was greeted with suspicion by critics of President Obama.

Wednesday afternoon, the president released a statement in which he called Solis "a tireless champion for working families."

The statement continued, "Over the last four years, Secretary Solis has been a critical member of my economic team as we have worked to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and strengthen the economy for the middle class."

Solis' resignation comes on the same day the president is said to be poised to nominate Jacob Lew for the post of Treasury Secretary. This afternoon, a CNN writer pondered what a second Obama administration will look like, in a piece titled "Obama's Cabinet shaping up to be a boys club."

Copyright 2013 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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