President Obama Nominates Justice Official to Top Labor Slot
President Barack Obama has chosen Thomas Perez, a top Justice Department official, to be the next secretary of labor, calling him a consensus builder whose "story reminds us of this country's promise."
The 51-year-old Perez has headed the Justice Department's Civil Rights Divisions since 2009, playing a leading role in the agency's decision to challenge voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina.
He also has broad support from labor and from the Latino community, although he also has Republican congressional critics who can be expected to oppose his confirmation.
If confirmed, Perez would be one of the highest ranking Hispanics in the government.
With his nomination, Obama now has four Cabinet-level slots to fill -- departments of Commerce and Transportation, the Small Business Administration and the U.S. Trade Representative.
Meanwhile, Republican Sen. David Vitter says he will block President Obama's nominee to head the Labor Department until he gets a response to his letter complaining about the enforcement of voting rights laws in his home state of Louisiana.
Vitter's comments came just hours after Obama formally nominated Perez to the labor post. Perez currently heads the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, which enforces voting rights laws.
The Louisiana Republican senator says that under Perez, the Justice Department sent undercover investigators to Louisiana to make sure state welfare offices encouraged recipients to register to vote. But he contends the department made no effort to enforce laws that require purging ineligible voters from the rolls.
A White House spokesman declined to respond to Vitter's threat. (AP)
Nevada Senator Harry Reid issued the following statement after President Barack Obama nominated Thomas Perez to be the nation's next Labor Secretary. Perez currently serves as Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice:
"I applaud President Obama for nominating Thomas Perez to head the Labor Department. Perez has already showed his commitment to defending the American dream and upholding every American's civil liberties, and his professional background makes him qualified for a job vital to our economy and the growth of the middle class. He is pragmatic and a believer in consensus who works equally well with CEOs and labor leaders. But it is also his life story, growing up the son of immigrants in upstate New York, that has given him an understanding of the realities facing American families and how decisions made in Washington impact them.
"Mr. Perez is highly qualified and deserves a speedy confirmation. Few public servants have fought as hard to protect the rights and freedoms enshrined by the Constitution as Mr. Perez. I hope Senate Republicans will put partisanship aside and look at his record and values in an objective manner."
Thursday, May 23 2013 2:59 AM EDT2013-05-23 06:59:26 GMT
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