The U.S. Senate on July 18 confirmed Thomas Perez to become the next Secretary of Labor. The 54-46 party-line vote followed a four-month standoff between the Senate Republicans and the White House during which Perez’s nomination languished, along with those of other Obama administration appointees awaiting confirmation.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid threatened to change Senate rules in order to secure straight up-or-down votes on the nominations. Senate Republicans eventually brokered a deal that led to Perez’s confirmation in exchange for a White House agreement to drop two controversial nominations to fill vacant seats on the National Labor Relations Board.
Perez was expected to be sworn in within days. He comes to the Department of Labor after a three-year stint as Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
“Perez is generally regarded as an ally of organized labor,” said Littler Mendelson employment law attorney Ilyse Schuman. “He has spoken in favor of unions, the Employee Free Choice Act and pay equality, among other employment issues.”
During Senate confirmation hearings, Perez said his top priority at the Department of Labor would be “jobs, jobs, jobs.” He pledged to continue the department’s recent rigorous enforcement ofand wage-and-hour laws.