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President Bush Friday appointed Lynn Martin, a five-term congresswoman from Illinois, as the new secretary of labor.

Ms. Martin, 50, a conservative Republican and former high school teacher, would succeed outgoing Labor Secretary Elizabeth Dole as the only woman in the Bush cabinet.

"I'm delighted to have her working at my side," Bush told reporters before departing for Camp David. "I know that she will serve with great distinction."

Bush, who described Ms. Martin as "an outstanding member of Congress and unofficial adviser to me," said he expected to meet with her in Washington next week. The nomination must be confirmed by the Senate.

Ms. Martin is leaving the congressional office she has held for 10 years after an unsuccessful bid for the Senate.

Martin's nomination drew mixed reactions from lawmakers and labor leaders.

Sen. Paul Simon, a liberal Democrat from Illinois who withstood a challenge from Ms. Martin for his Senate seat last month and is a member of the Labor and Human Resources Committee which will consider her nomination, said he would vote to confirm her.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the committee, said he commended her on her nomination. "The Department of Labor needs a strong secretary who is willing to stand up for hard-pressed families against the constant pro-business tilt of the White House," he said.

But a House labor committee aide said Ms. Martin had very little background in labor affairs, adding that her nomination may have been a political payoff following her election loss.

Lane Kirkland, president of the AFL-CIO, an umbrella group of labor unions, expressed skepticism over her commitment to worker's rights.

"During her period of service to her district's constituency, her voting record has not reflected a sensitivity to the needs of workers," Kirkland said.

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