Biden taps ex-DNC chair Tom Perez to push infrastructure legislation

The Biden administration is looking to further promote its climate and infrastructure legislation to local and state governments.
Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez.
Posted at 4:33 PM, Jun 12, 2023

President Joe Biden has named Tom Perez, a former labor secretary and Democratic National Committee chairman, to be a senior adviser and his liaison to state and local governments as the White House turns its focus toward implementing Biden's infrastructure and climate legislation.

Perez will lead the office of intergovernmental affairs, replacing Julie Rodriguez who Biden tapped to be the manager for his reelection campaign. The White House emphasized that he brings experience working at the local, state and federal levels, which prepares him to meet the needs of officials across government. 

He will also advise Biden on immigration and labor issues, and work on other projects as assigned.

Perez's selection reflects the administration's view that the successful implementation of massive infrastructure, technology and climate legislation passed in Biden's first two years in office — and with it Biden's own legacy — will rise and fall on the actions of figures across all levels of government.

"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 told the AP. 

"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."

Perez acknowledged that it’s unlikely many bills will be approved by Congress for the remainder of Biden's first term, with Republicans leading the House and Democrats controlling the Senate and the White House. So now, he said, "this is all about implementation and making sure people know about these opportunities" in legislation that has already been signed into law.

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"There’s a seemingly limitless amount of opportunity right now," Perez added. "The next phase of the world we live in is implementation, implementation, implementation. And that’s what the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs is all about."

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 first got to know Biden when working as an aide to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy while the president was the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. They worked closely together when Perez was later labor secretary in the Obama administration, with Perez describing Biden as "my go to guy when I needed help."

Biden, in a statement, touted Perez's decades of government experience."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."

News of Perez’s appointment was first reported by The Washington Post.

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