Obama Renews Minimum Wage Push With Labor Secretary Nomination

Obama: “Minimum wage should be a wage that you can live on.”

Charles Dharapak, File / AP

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama once again called for a hike in the minimum wage when he nominated a civil rights lawyer to the post of Secretary of Labor Monday.

Tom Perez, assistant Attorney General for civil rights under Eric Holder, was formally nominated by the president to replace Hilda Solis as the Secretary of Labor. In an East Room ceremony attended by a number of big names from the civil rights and labor communities, Obama hinted that the selection of Perez was part of the push for a rise in the federal minimum wage he called for during his State Of The Union address in January.

Perez “understands that the minimum wage should be a wage you can live on,” Obama said. During the State of Union address, Obama called for the minimum wage to be increased to $9.00 per hour.

Before he joined the Obama administration, Perez was Secretary of Labor under Gov. Martin O’Malley in Maryland. In a statement, O’Malley referenced Perez’ work to implement the state’s Living Wage law, which requires state government contractors to pay better than the minimum wage.

“From foreclosure prevention to living wage implementation to workforce development and skills training, Tom established an aggressive portfolio that helped Marylanders weather a changing new economy,” O’Malley said.

So far, Republicans in Congress do not seem interested in Obama’s call for an increased minimum wage. Last week House Republicans voted unanimously to reject a Democratic proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to around $10.00/hour.

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