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Senate confirms Marty Walsh as Secretary of Labor

The U.S. Senate confirmed former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as Secretary of Labor in a 68-29 vote Monday evening.

marty walsh speaking into a microphone
Former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. Walsh was confirmed as Secretary of Labor by the Senate in a 68-29 vote Monday. OLIVIA FALCIGNO/ DFP FILE

All 48 senators from the Democratic Party and both independent senators voted in favor, as well as 18 Republicans.

The vote marked the final confirmation of President Joe Biden’s 15 cabinet nominations.

Walsh is expected to be sworn in Tuesday, after he flies into D.C. in the morning, he announced at a Monday evening press conference.

Walsh held the farewell press conference in Faneuil Hall after the vote was completed. He began his speech by sharing his gratitude for the support and confidence of the Senate, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

“I share their commitment to building an economy that works for every single American,” Walsh said. “I spent my entire career fighting for working people, and I’m eager to continue that fight in Washington.”

City Council President Kim Janey stepped up as acting mayor — as dictated by the Boston City Charter — after Walsh sent in his resignation around 9 p.m. Monday.

Janey is the first woman and first person of color to serve as Boston’s mayor.

“I was texting with Council President Janey last night,” Walsh said. “I texted, ‘Think about this for a minute. A little girl from Roxbury is about to be mayor of Boston.’ And her response was, ‘Think about this for a minute. A little boy from Dorchester is about to become the United States Labor Secretary of the United States of America.’”

Walsh reflected on his last seven years as mayor and said he was proud of his achievements in the city, naming the creation of 140,000 new jobs, being first in the nation in building affordable housing, cutting major crime and raising the graduation rate in Boston Public Schools.

“There is no other elected or appointed position where you are so closely in touch with the people you serve,” Walsh said. “It’s truly where democracy lies.”

He thanked members of his cabinet and all city employees for the work they’ve done “keeping our city great.” He also thanked the press and residents who campaigned for him and criticized him.

“As I told the team this morning, the journey doesn’t stop,” Walsh said. “I’m confident that our public servants, our business community and our residents will continue to rise up to the occasion. Boston, Massachusetts is the greatest city in the world, with the greatest people in the world.”

Following the press conference, Janey tweeted her congratulations to Walsh.

“Congratulations on your confirmation, Secretary Walsh,” she wrote. “The working people of America will benefit greatly from your passion. Now, we look ahead to a new day — a new chapter — in Boston’s history.”

Other city councilors also took to Twitter to congratulate Janey and Walsh on their new positions.

“Congratulations to my friend & colleague @Kim_Janey for becoming Boston’s first Black & woman mayor,” Councilor Michelle Wu tweeted. “Mayor Janey has a long history of activism uplifting youth & BIPOC voices. I look forward to working with her during this critical moment in Boston.”

Wu is currently running for mayor in the city’s 2021 election.

Councillor Andrea Campbell, who is also campaigning for the seat, tweeted a statement of support for Walsh within an hour of the vote.

“Congratulations to our new Secretary of Labor, @MartyJWalsh,” Campbell wrote. “I look forward to working with you in this new role to center working people as we build a strong, equitable recovery from this pandemic and for the future of the City of Boston.”

Councilor Kenzie Bok — who represents Boston’s eighth district, which includes Boston University — tweeted she was “SO EXCITED for MAYOR @Kim_Janey.”

Bok posted a picture of herself and Janey under an animal-print umbrella on a rainy day. “Like with that umbrella, she’s got us covered. :-)” the caption read.

Taking questions from the press, Walsh said he would not be taking a role in the mayoral race or endorsing a candidate, adding it would not be right because he has worked too closely with each of the candidates.

However, he did give the candidates some advice:

“Enjoy the race, have fun, talk to everybody,” Walsh said to the candidates.

He concluded the conference by saying that having a mayor who doesn’t look like him is an opportunity to show how the city has evolved. He noted Boston’s diversity, calling it an “international city.”

“Twenty years ago everyone’s talking about the ‘New Boston,’” Walsh said. “There’s no such thing as ‘New Boston,’ it’s an evolving Boston … In 2021, we’re making another evolution, and that’s the beauty about our city. We just continue to evolve, and it gets stronger, and stronger and stronger.”

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