President Obama Announces Choice for Labor Secretary

President taps Thomas Perez to head department left vacated by Hilda Solis.
13:11 | 03/18/13

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Transcript for President Obama Announces Choice for Labor Secretary
This is the special -- from ABC news now. And good morning everyone I'm -- that's our new -- and ABC news now special reports let's go to Washington DC where president Obama's pick up a busy week today introducing his nominee. To run the Labor Department. Let's listen -- Well. As I've said before my top priority as president is doing everything. We need to do to make sure that we're growing our economy and that we're strengthening our middle class. And as I serve my State of the Union Address last -- every day we should be asking ourselves for questions. One how do we make sure America is a magnet for good jobs. Number two -- we equipped. People with the skills they need to get those jobs and number three how we make sure that hard work actually pays off -- -- -- These -- the challenges that others instruct my team here at the White House and in my entire cabinet to focus on. And a position that's instrumental to tackling these challenges is having an outstanding secretary of what. So I want to begin by thanking Hilda Solis and her entire team. Including acting surgeries -- Paris. For the outstanding -- -- -- over the past four years. There -- efforts the Department of Labor have given more young people with -- On new skills. More returning vets the chance to find a job. They've looked out for worker safety from construction sites to coal mines. They stood up for workers rights organize. Women's rights to. -- get paid equally for the work that they do. They've done an extraordinary job fighting on behalf of working families across -- -- And today I'm proud to nominate a leader to carry on those efforts as America's. Next secretary of labor operates. Like so many Americans -- knows what it's like to climb the ladder of opportunity. He's the son of Dominican immigrants. He helped pay his way through college as a garbage collector and working at a warehouse. He went on to become the first lawyer and his family. So his story reminds us of this country's promise that if you're wrong work part. -- matter who we are where you come from what your last name is you can make it if you -- And Toms made protecting that promise. For everybody because of his life. As civil rights -- and -- -- and circuit Ted Kennedy. A member of the Montgomery Maryland county council. -- operate level playing field work hard work and responsibility are awarded working families and get ahead. And this is not first time he's chosen to be a labor secretary of we've got here today governor Martin O'Malley. And Martin appointed. Tom as secretary of Maryland's Department of Labor where he helped implement the country's first state wide. Living wage law because he understood that a minimum wage should be a wage that you can live long. In his current role as the head of the US Justice Department civil rights division. -- -- open pathways in the workforce for -- -- willing to contribute including people with disabilities. LG BT Americans and immigrants. And he's helped settle some of the largest cases ever on behalf of -- was targeted. By unfair mortgage -- -- now while he's tackled plenty of tough issues Toms also spent a career as a consensus built. He's worked with CEOs whose work labor leaders he's worked -- federal state and local government levels. And throughout -- understands that our economy works best. When the middle class and those working to get in the middle class -- the security they need on the job. A democratic voice in the workplace. Everybody playing by the same sentence. Some jobs knowledge and experience will make him an outstanding. -- labor and there's plenty of work to do we're gonna have to work very hard. To make sure that folks find jobs with good wages good benefits we've got to make sure that our veterans were returning home -- Iraq and Afghanistan. Have a chance to put their incredible skills leadership to work at home. We need to build an immigration system that works for every employee in every family in every business. I'm confident Tom's going to be able to work to promote economic growth. But also make sure the -- is broad based it is going to be an integral part of overall economic -- So these -- just a few of many challenges working families. There are facing and where they needed that. And -- the right person for their -- so I hope the senate will act swiftly. Tikrit confirmed Tom so we can work together to address. All these concerns I want to thank you -- -- -- Wonderful family for agreeing to take on this new role I just heard that Tom has been coaching basketball and baseball. He doesn't claim to be a great coach. But -- -- but he brings passion to it. He may and not miss in a few games. Over the next several months. But it's going to be for a good cause and I appreciate his family. Being -- and make these sacrifices as well so I would bet I would like to introduce my nominee to be our next secretary. Of labor give him chances are few words and again I urge the senate to confirm him as quickly as possible this -- Thanks very much thank you Mr. President for your confidence in me. They out of this coast and -- -- in that that on the on the holidays. No mean out of Syria and establish this young. It is a remarkably humbling and exciting. Phenomenon to be here today. My parents -- 54 siblings and me to work hard to give back to our community and to make sure that the -- of opportunity was there. For those coming after us. Over my career I've learned the true progress is possible if you keep an open mind. Listen to all sides and focus on results. I look forward to taking these lessons with me if confirmed to my new role as secretary of the Department of Labor. As you well know our nation still faces critical economic challenges and the department's mission is as important as ever. I am confident that together with our partners and organized labor the business community grassroots communities Republicans Democrats and independents alike. We can keep making progress for all working families. In the coming weeks. As the confirmation process unfolds. I look forward to meeting with senators of both parties to discuss the Labor Department's key role protecting. And growing the middle class a close again Mr. President I think he once again for this tremendous opportunity. -- -- -- -- -- It's interpreted in that it would not remain open to -- it's severe and if that -- I look forward to this opportunity to continue serving our nation thank you so much. Run the Labor Department former California congressman held the police left the post in Chad where she was the first Latina to -- a major federal agency. For what the success -- which -- to the podium there. Justice Department lawyer Thomas -- Austin Hispanic if confirmed he would be the only Hispanic. And president Obama's second term cabinet. -- working right now in civil rights division of the attorney general's. Office made headlines -- 2010. Launching a probe against Arizona's sheriff Joseph Arpaio. Alleging systematic discrimination. Against Latinos that -- -- Got his start as we just heard the president say working with the late Senator Ted Kennedy a money but on a Jordan Fabian. Politics -- profusion of joint venture between ABC news and Univision Jordan thanks for being with us this morning. Continuously a little bit about about the case against Arpaio we're standing right now. Absolutely so this is -- case is sort of way back in the Bush Administration they were investigating the Maricopa county sheriff's office. For abuses against detainees especially. Among immigrant populations there how they're enforcing the laws -- whether they're who they were pursuing an over aggressive manner. Against Hispanic citizens in the Phoenix Arizona area. Basically. Do just the part was negotiating with -- for number of years. But they filed a lawsuit last year right now it's sort of in the -- in his state of legal limbo but this is helping -- that certainly. Gains national attention for pariahs he was the one -- Really rode up the entire case against Arpaio -- the book at him. Yet it certainly -- headlines apps election before that though we know that -- has started his career working for Senator Kennedy what's been the focus of his work at a Justice Department. -- the last couple of years. Well he's really focus on on voting rights. Right now in the Supreme Court they're challenging the voting rights act whether states have had a history of discriminating against minority voters. Should have to clear their changes to voter laws with the federal government -- press has been at the forefront of that he's challenged. Voting laws and Alabama and Arizona there's. Law that Arizona now is trying to require all people to for prove prove their citizenship to vote impresses led. The charge against that it well for the abound illustration is the White House counting on him to be a strong force in pushing forward their immigration plans. I think so I mean you know he took charge Arpaio. The Labor Department. Is gonna play a key role in determining the future flow of of immigrant workers and that's really contentious issue in this immigration today we've heard a lot about how. Big business and labor unions have disagreed over this and threats is supported by. A number of labor unions so we know where he stands on on this issue and and and it's also an indicator for the a -- ministry should stance on the issue as well. -- Perez. It was also involved in a controversial case. Involving the new black Panthers and the bush Justice Department filed charges against four members of that group. Three of those in the case were dropped after President Obama took office. How did -- and is essentially become a target -- for Republicans relating to this thing. Well if you're back to 2000 elections there was all kinds of allegations about voter intimidation in the -- back black Panthers for the senators that. -- as a remember that was very few election so I think. You know if you look at these are contentious racial issues you know -- -- sort of been at the forefront of that and so that can make him a lightning rod for Republican criticism in any. Confirmation hearing moving forward that being said there's no indication that the Republicans a filibuster him but expect him to get asked about this when he -- before the senate us so again we certainly something to be brought up during the confirmation hearings but for the -- for the most part of the White House expects that this confirmation -- -- pretty smoothly. Yeah I believe so we haven't heard any thing you know compare to let's say Chuck Hagel who really face a tough time there was questions there. Whether he was gonna get confirmed his nomination was filibustered. We haven't heard any Republican lawmakers come out and explicitly say. They -- filibuster threats but he's going to -- some tough questioning when he comes. For the senate all right Jordan Fabian politics that are fusion Jordan thanks so much for your insight this morning appreciate that and of course as we just heard there the president making his nomination for labor -- -- secretary of Labor Department Tomas Perez to replace outgoing secretary -- this Elise of course we're gonna have a complete recap on For now though we'll return you back your regularly scheduled program. It's it's been a special with the from in the ABC news now.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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