WASHINGTON, July 18, 2013 – The Senate confirmed today, on a straight party-line vote of 54-46, the nomination of Thomas Perez to serve as labor secretary.

Democratic senators praised Perez as a protector of civil rights during his recent stint at the Justice Department. Republicans argued that Perez was a liberal activist who would lean in favor of labor union interests while railing against business interests.

Perez replaces Hilda Solis who announced her resignation in early January.

Perez will come in about a year after the department sparked controversy among agricultural stakeholders for proposing a rule to limit what types of work minors can perform on a farm.

The department had argued the rule would affect only minors on a formal payroll and would keep the youth workers from using certain heavy equipment and doing other possibly dangerous jobs on a farm.

Many farm groups rallied against the rule, arguing it could hinder young workers from getting into the family farm business, and that it amounted to over-regulation.

Amid a large amount of oppositional comments, the department chose to scrap the rule in April 2012.


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