Former UM Carey Law faculty member Thomas E. Perez was confirmed by the Senate as Secretary of Labor July 18.
“Tom’s confirmation is a tribute to his outstanding credentials, including his work here at the law school,” said Dean Phoebe Haddon. “We have no doubt he will succeed as Labor Secretary.”
Perez, who was confirmed with a party-line vote of 54-46, had been nominated March 18. His confirmation vote came after a deal in the Senate to preserve the filibuster ended Republican opposition to many of President Obama’s appointments.
Perez, 51, replaces Hilda L. Solis, who announced her resignation in January.
“I welcome today’s confirmation of Tom Perez to serve as Secretary of Labor. Tom has lived the American dream himself, and has dedicated his career to keeping it within reach for hardworking families across the country,” said President Barack Obama in a statement. “At the Department of Labor, Tom will help us continue to grow our economy, help businesses create jobs, make sure workers have the skills those jobs require, and ensure safe workplaces and economic opportunity for all.”
"He has spent his career fighting for working families, protecting our important civil rights laws and turning around troubled agencies," added Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash, in an Associated Press article.
A faculty member from 2001 to 2007, Perez taught in the Law & Health Care Program and was a director of the Clinical Law Program; he published works such as Enhancing Access to Health Care and Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Status: A Compelling Case for Health Professions Schools to Implement Race-Conscious Admissions Policies. During that time, he also was the first Latino to win a seat on the Montgomery County Council, eventually becoming president.
Perez left the law school in 2007 to serve as Maryland’s labor secretary and is currently the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. He also served as the director of the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services under the last two years of the Clinton administration.
Perez holds a Bachelor's degree from Brown University, a Master's of Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a JD from Harvard Law School.