WASHINGTON – Republicans slammed President Barack Obama’s selection of Thomas Perez as the next labor secretary Monday, painting the assistant U.S. attorney general as a polarizing and radical figure and suggesting that they will seek to hold up his nomination.
Perez, 51, a former Montgomery County Council member who has overseen the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department since 2009, is expected to help Obama pursue an ambitious agenda that includes expanding voting rights, raising the minimum wage and overhauling immigration laws.
In announcing the selection at the White House, Obama hailed Perez as a “consensus builder” whose story “reminds us of this country’s promise.” Perez, whose parents were from the Dominican Republic, would be the first Latino to join the second-term Cabinet if the Senate confirms him to replace Hilda Solis.
However, several GOP lawmakers seized on a recent inspector general’s report critical of the Justice Department’s voting rights section to denounce Perez’s management style. They also pointed to the department’s role in persuading the city of St. Paul, Minnesota, to withdraw a housing discrimination case before the Supreme Court as evidence of his legal activism.