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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Brother Labors On

The deal in the Senate yesterday between Republicans who want to keep the filibuster rules intact and Democrats who want to confirm some of Obama's nominees will have a direct impact on my brother, Seth.

As I've mentioned on this site and on the air, Seth was the deputy to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis during Obama's first term. Shortly after the president was re-inaugurated in January, Solis resigned, and Seth was named Acting Secretary. That not only meant moving into the big office, but also that he got a security detail because he was officially in the presidential line of succession. There are ten others ahead of him, so the chances of Seth becoming Commander In Chief are very thin -- but, as he has said, if you ever see him on TV telling the country that everything is okay, well, everything is not okay.

Several months ago, Obama nominated Justice Department lawyer Tom Perez as his new Labor Secretary, but Republicans blocked the nomination by refusing to vote on it and threatening a filibuster. That's been a common tactic of the GOP throughout this administration -- getting in the way instead of leading. So, while Perez has been on the sidelines, Seth has continued in the job. He has been very busy and done a masterful job traveling the country to meet workers and employers, hosting forums on raising the minimum wage, pushing for immigration reform, and doing hundreds of radio interviews every time new jobs numbers are reported.

With the new filibuster deal, that will all end soon, possibly by the end of the week, as Perez is one of the nominees the Republicans have agreed to confirm. Meanwhile, Seth is in Russia at a G-20 economic conference. I e-mailed him this morning that I hope the Perez confirmation doesn't go through so quickly that he's abandoned in the Moscow airport with Edward Snowden.

Friends have asked why Obama didn't give the Labor Secretary job to Seth in the first place. I joked that his not being a Latino worked against him, although there are other reasons much more complex. However, I'm sure that the fact that he has me for a brother hasn't helped. Once the FBI started vetting him, they came across my broadcasting career, and before long, I was my brother's glass ceiling.

When Perez does take over officially, Seth will move back into the second-largest office at the Labor Department headquarters in DC and resume his job as Deputy Secretary, where he is effectively the Chief Operating Officer of an organization with 17,000 employees.

And I'll still be proud of him.

Update 7/18/13 2:44pm...The Senate voted 54-46 to confirm Tom Perez as Labor Secretary today. And Seth is still in Moscow.