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President Obama Nominates Thomas Perez as Labor Secretary

by Christina Reyes   •  

On Monday, President Obama formally nominated Thomas Perez as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor. Former Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, resigned in January. Perez, like his predecessor, is also a Latino.

Perez currently serves as the Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice. Prior to joining the Justice Department, Perez was Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Before that, Perez was a member of the county council in Montgomery County Maryland. Perez is seen as a strong advocate for workers, particularly around the push to increase the minimum wage, one of Obama’s second-term goals as announced in his State of the Union Address.

Perez’s nomination must be confirmed by the Senate, which may prove to be an uphill battle due to Republican opposition. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-IA), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has expressed concerns about the nomination. 

Likely to be under fire will be voting rights and discrimination cases at the Justice Department. Additionally, Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s recent report on the Justice Department’s voting rights section, overseen by the Civil Rights Division, found the section to be rife with polarization and unprofessionalism. Proponents of Perez believe him to be an adept leader and problem solver.

Perez obtained his bachelor’s degree from Brown University. He received a master’s of public policy from Harvard and a doctorate from Harvard Law School.

Christina Reyes

Writer, Opportunity Nation

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