Obama Nominates Perez for Labor Secretary

Head of Justice’s Civil Rights Division likely to face Senate GOP opposition

President Barack Obama said Perez was instrumental in implementing Maryland's living-wage law. (Photo: AP) President Barack Obama said Perez was instrumental in implementing Maryland's living-wage law. (Photo: AP)

President Barack Obama on Monday nominated Tom Perez, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, as the next Secretary of Labor, replacing Hilda Solis, who announced her resignation in early January.

In comments from the White House, Obama said that Perez “as a civil rights attorney, an aide to Sen. Ted Kennedy, a member of the Montgomery, Maryland County Council, Tom fought for a level playing field where hard work and responsibility are rewarded and working families can get ahead.”

Obama also noted that this is not the first time that Perez has been chosen to be a labor secretary, as Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland appointed Perez to that post in his state, “where he helped implement the country’s first statewide living-wage law, because he understood that a minimum wage should be a wage that you can live on.”

In his current role as the head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Perez, Obama said, “has fought to open pathways into the work force for everyone willing to contribute, including people with disabilities, LGBT Americans and immigrants. And he has helped settle some of the largest cases ever on behalf of families targeted by unfair mortgage lending.”

While Perez has “tackled plenty of tough issues,” Obama continued, he “has also spent a career as a consensus-builder,” working with CEOs and labor leaders, and at the federal, state and local government levels.

Perez “understands that our economy works best when the middle class and those working to get into the middle class have the security they need on the job, a democratic voice in the workplace, everybody playing by the same set of rules,” Obama said.

Reuters reported that the Harvard-educated civil rights attorney is expected to face opposition from some Republican senators “who say he has been too aggressive on certain immigration issues, and too political.”

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