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Former DNC head Tom Perez joins the Biden Administration

The former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Asst. Attorney General serve as senior adviser, assistant to the president, and director of Intergovernmental Affairs.

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President Joe Biden’s latest cabinet addition brings his administration closer to fulfilling his campaign promise of creating the “most diverse cabinet” in American history.

Biden on Monday, June 12, announced the appointment of former U.S. Secretary of Labor and former Chair of the Democratic National Committee Tom Perez, who will serve as senior adviser, assistant to the president, and director of Intergovernmental Affairs. 

Perez was previously Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights from 2009 to 2013 and U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Barack Obama from 2013 to 2017. He was a GU Politics Fellow at the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service in 2021.

“He brings decades of experience to my team, having served in local, state and federal government,” Biden said in a statement. 

“His perspective and relationships as a former county councilman, a top civil rights attorney, and Secretary of Labor will be invaluable as we implement our Invest in America agenda and continue to make our government work for the people and for communities across the country,” he added. 

Perez is replacing former director and senior advisor Julie Chavez Rodriguez, who was tapped this past April to lead the Biden–Harris 2024 re-election campaign as the President’s direct advisor on pushing his infrastructure and climate legislation. 

Born to immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic, Perez will also advise the President on immigration and labor issues. 

In an interview with the Associated Press following his appointment, Perez expressed that at least in the remaining first term of Biden’s presidency, many bills will not make it out of Congress with Republicans leading the House and Democrats controlling the Senate and the White House.

“The success is very dependent on the capacity of federal, state and local authorities and business leaders and nonprofit leaders to come together to maximize the moment,” Perez said. 

“I’ve prided myself on always trying to make government work, and the most effective accomplishments are accomplishments that are done in partnership, and I want to make sure that our state and local partners know that they have a really strong partner in the Biden administration and that’s a big part of what we’re going to do,” he continued.

Perez first met Biden, at the time a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, when working as an aide to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. The two would later work together when Perez became the labor secretary in the Obama administration. 

Perez has described Biden as “my go-to guy when I needed help.”

White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients said in a statement that “there is no one like Tom when it comes to charting the way forward, bringing people along, and getting things done.”

“He has the deep respect and trust of President Biden and Vice President Harris and we can’t wait to have him as a member of the President’s senior team at the White House,” Zients said.

Perez’s political career began as a federal civil rights prosecutor for the Department of Justice, then a staffer for Sen. Kennedy. Perez also served under the Bill Clinton administration during the latter stages of his presidency, as the Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Perez was elected to the Montgomery County Council in 2002, and served as Council President from 2005 until the end of his tenure in 2006.

He unsuccessfully ran for Maryland Governor in 2022, placing second in the Democratic primary behind now-Gov. Wes Moore. 

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