Committee Vote Sends President Obama’s Secretary of Labor Nominee Tom Perez to Full Senate

Categories: Civil Rights Enforcement, News

In a 12-10 vote along party lines, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee last week voted out the nomination of Tom Perez  to serve as the next U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Obama.

Despite the lack of Republican support in the HELP Committee, Perez – who is currently serving as assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division – has received strong bipartisan support from civil rights, business leaders, law enforcement officials, Latino organizations, and disability groups. During his tenure at the Civil Rights Division, Perez has also been applauded as a tireless champion of voting rights, disability rights, educational equity, and strong enforcement of the federal hate crime law.

Before his nomination to lead the Civil Rights Division, Perez was secretary of Maryland’s Department of Labor, where he collaborated with businesses and employees to address critical workforce development needs and continue to build a world-class workforce.

“[Tom Perez] knows how he can work with the entire society, not only with Latinos, not only with workers, not only with laborers,” said Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA de Maryland, at a May 15 press conference in Washington, D.C.

Latino advocates say they are paying close attention to how senators vote on Perez, who would be the only Hispanic cabinet member in the second-term Obama administration. “He was overwhelmingly confirmed by the Senate in his current post just three years ago,” said Janet Murguía, president and CEO of NCLR, who also spoke in Washington, D.C. “There is no question he is qualified for the job. It should be any senator’s primary consideration for his confirmation,” she added.

The Leadership Conference is calling on senators to reject a policy of obstructing qualified men and women that Obama has nominated to serve in his administration.

“While we celebrate that the Perez nomination will be forwarded to the Senate floor, we remain deeply concerned about the partisan attempts to twist and distort his superb record of public service in effectively enforcing civil rights laws,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership. “These politics of obstruction have no place with a cabinet appointment by a twice-elected president who has a mandate to nominate a qualified and respected public servant like Perez.”

For more information on Tom Perez, go to

Read the letter to Senators signed by 82 civil rights organizations in support of Tom Perez.