President Obama announced that Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, of the Civil Rights division, is his choice to be the next Secretary of Labor. Perez would replace the now former Secretary Linda Holis, who abruptly resigned on January 9. The potential new Secretary of Labor does have an interesting personal story. He is the son of Dominican immigrants, and worked his way through college as a garbage man. However, it could be a fight to become the Secretary. Republicans have called the choice “divisive” and oppose the nomination. Republicans also say that Perez was too political when we worked in the Civil Rights division. Radio host Rush Limbaugh even compared Perez to the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
Statement by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP):
“I am pleased that President Obama has nominated Thomas Perez to serve as our next Secretary of Labor, a vitally important part of the Cabinet. As the former Maryland Secretary of Labor and as the current Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Mr. Perez has served as a voice for the most vulnerable, and reinvigorated the enforcement of our most critical civil rights laws. As the Senate author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I am particularly pleased with Mr. Perez’s long history of strong leadership on disability rights issues, which began when he was the head of the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Clinton Administration, and has continued through his current role.
“Mr. Perez brings significant experience and expertise to this position, and I am confident that he will serve ably if confirmed. As chair of the Senate HELP Committee, I pledge to work with Ranking Member Alexander and members of the Committee to promptly complete our review of Mr. Perez’s nomination. I hope that the U.S. Senate will work quickly to consider and confirm Mr. Perez to this critical role, so that he can continue and build upon the excellent work carried out by Secretary Hilda Solis.”
From Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Ranking Member of the Senate HELP committee:
“I look forward to meeting with Mr. Perez and examining his record and qualifications. Any nominee for this position should be ready and able to work with both parties in Congress to make it easier for the private sector to create good jobs for the 12 million workers still unemployed now three and a half years after the recession ended.”