University News

Obama to nominate Perez for Labor Secretary slot

If confirmed, Perez would be the first U. alum to take up a cabinet post since the Clinton administration

By
University News Editor
Monday, March 18, 2013

The White House announced President Obama will officially nominate Thomas Perez ’83 today to serve as U.S. Secretary of Labor, Politico reported Sunday night.

Perez, currently serving as the U.S. assistant attorney general for civil rights, will become the first Brown alum to serve in a cabinet-level position since Richard Holbrooke ’62, a former Herald editor-in-chief, was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Clinton administration, The Herald previously reported.

Perez’s nomination comes as no surprise, as multiple sources close to the selection process confirmed March 9 that Obama was likely to pick him. He must now be confirmed by the U.S. Senate to succeed incumbent Secretary Hilda Solis before serving in Obama’s second-term cabinet.

The White House highlighted Perez’s role in supporting veterans’ and students’ legal rights, prosecuting housing discrimination and enforcing human trafficking laws as evidence that he would make a strong Labor Secretary, Politico reported.

Perez’s nomination marks the first time this term Obama has selected a Latino to join the cabinet.

Labor unions and civil rights activist groups have publicly voiced support for Perez’s nomination, and he is popular on the left wing of the political spectrum for leading the U.S. Justice Department’s challenge to voter identification laws in South Carolina and Texas, The Herald previously reported. Opponents of the states’ ID laws charged they discriminated against racial minorities.

But Perez could face a challenge in winning confirmation in the Senate — Republican senators have criticized him for his leadership of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, The Herald previously reported.

His Republican critics have pointed to an inspector general’s report released March 12 that stated Perez gave misleading testimony about whether Justice Department political appointees were involved in the decision not to continue with a lawsuit in a 2010 case investigating possible voter intimidation in Philadelphia, Politico reported. Perez will likely face questions about this incident in his confirmation hearing.

Perez, who concentrated in international relations and political science at the University before receiving a law degree from Harvard, received the Brown Alumni Association’s William Rogers Award in 2010 for outstanding public service, The Herald previously reported.

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