Perez also has held posts as deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights under Attorney General Janet Reno; special counsel to the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., as his principal adviser on civil rights, criminal justice and constitutional issues; and director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Health and Human Services Department under President Bill Clinton.
The AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union wouldn’t comment on the nomination because the White House hasn’t made it official. But an SEIU spokeswoman said, “Mr. Perez would probably be a good choice as he was formerly Maryland’s labor secretary, worked for Sen. Kennedy on immigration, among other things, and is a good administrator on most issues.”
Another potential area of controversy for Perez if he is nominated is his involvement at the Justice Department in challenging state voter ID laws last year that could have restricted minority voting rights.
Even before Perez’s name was floated, it had been anticipated that any nominee for Labor secretary could spark a fight on Capitol Hill, where numerous partisan battles have erupted over labor issues. During the 112th Congress, Republicans in both chambers pursued unsuccessful efforts to restrict the authority of the National Labor Relations Board. For instance, the Senate last April blocked consideration of a GOP-sponsored resolution disapproving of an NLRB rule that would speed votes by workers to form or join unions.
Republicans were livid after Obama in January 2012 made three NLRB recess appointments, which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in January were unconstitutional. Though the president renominated two of the members last month, the court ruling hasn’t stopped the board from continuing its operations as normal. Republicans in both chambers have introduced legislation to prohibit the board from enforcing or implementing decisions and regulations.