By ?JIM KUHNHENN?
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama has chosen Thomas Perez, a top Justice Department official, to be the next secretary of labor, calling him a consensus builder whose “story reminds us of this country’s promise.”
The 51-year-old Perez has headed the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Divisions since 2009, playing a leading role in the agency’s decision to challenge voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina.
He also has broad support from labor and from the Latino community, although he also has Republican congressional critics who can be expected to oppose his confirmation.
If confirmed, Perez would be one of the highest ranking Hispanics in the government.
With his nomination, Obama now has four Cabinet-level slots to fill — departments of Commerce and Transportation, the Small Business Administration and the U.S. Trade Representative.