Seeking to fill yet another second-term Cabinet vacancy, President Obama is set today to nominate Thomas Perez, an assistant attorney general, to be the next secretary of labor, the White House says. If confirmed by the Senate, Perez, who has been head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division for three and a half years, would take over the Labor Department as Obama undertakes several worker-oriented initiatives, including an overhaul of immigration laws and an increase in the minimum wage.
The son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Perez, 51, would replace Hilda Solis, the nation's first Hispanic labor secretary. Perez's nomination has been expected for weeks, and comes with vigorous support from labor unions and Latino groups. But a newly released report by the Justice Department's inspector general could provide fodder for Republicans who say the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has been too politicized. The report said Perez gave incomplete testimony to officials in a Bush administration lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party, though it added he did not intentionally mislead the commission.