University News

Perez ’83 confirmed as Secretary of Labor

Perez is the first Brown alum to join a presidential cabinet since the Clinton administration

By
University News Editor
Friday, July 19, 2013

Thomas Perez ’83 received Senate confirmation to be the new U.S. Secretary of Labor July 18, becoming the first Brown alum to hold a Cabinet-level position in 12 years.

Richard Holbrooke ’62, a former Herald editor-in-chief, was the last alum to reach that level of the executive branch, serving as President Clinton’s ambassador to the United Nations from 1999 to 2001.

The Senate vote split along party lines, with all 54 Democrats and independents voting to confirm Perez and all 46 Republicans voting against his nomination.

Perez, who was nominated by President Obama in March, was one of several executive branch nominees whom Republican senators blocked from a final confirmation vote in recent months. But a deal reached Tuesday between senior Democratic and Republican senators cleared the way for Perez and other executive appointees to receive up-or-down confirmation votes.

Perez served as assistant U.S. attorney general for civil rights since 2009 and previously held positions as Maryland’s secretary of labor, an elected County Council member in Montgomery County, Md., and a federal prosecutor at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Civil rights activists and labor groups publicly backed Perez’s appointment. Perez won support from liberals for leading the Justice Department’s legal challenges to controversial voter identification laws in South Carolina and Texas, The Herald previously reported.

Senate Republicans who opposed Perez’s nomination alleged that he misled Congress about the Justice Department’s decision not to pursue an investigation about a 2010 incident of possible voter intimidation in Philadelphia, The Herald previously reported.

Obama released a statement Thursday thanking the Senate for confirming Perez.

“Tom has lived the American dream himself and has dedicated his career to keeping it within reach for hardworking families across the country,” Obama said in the statement.

 

Last updated Sept. 3, 1:32 a.m.

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