Frustrated by what they say is the Department of Justice stalling in an investigation into alleged voter intimidation by the New Black Panther Party during the 2008 election, House and Senate Republicans have coordinated a temporary blockade of President Barack Obama's nomination of Tom Perez to be assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division.
The DOJ launched an investigation into New Black Panther Party members following complaints that they intimidated voters during last years election. But Justice attorneys have since dropped the case, and conservatives have charged that political appointees of the Obama administration were involved in the decision.
Perez was reported out of the Judiciary Committee on June 4.
In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans, House Judiciary ranking member Lamar Smith (R-Texas) formally requested that a Member place a hold on Perezs nomination.
I write to request that you place a hold on the nomination of Mr. Tom Perez ... I ask that the hold remain in effect until the Department provides Congress with sufficient information about the sudden dismissal of a case alleging voter intimidation by the New Black Panther Party on Election Day 2008, Smith said in the letter.
I am currently working with the Department to schedule a briefing on this matter. I have also written to the Department expanding upon my initial questions. I respectfully request that you place a hold on Mr. Perez's nomination until the Department clearly addresses the questions raised in our correspondence and articulates its justification for dismissing the case, he added.
Although Smiths letter was sent Friday, Republicans acknowledged the minority on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees have been working on a strategy to block Perezs nomination in the run up to the August recess.
In fact, Senate Democratic aides said Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) had hoped to include Perezs nomination in a package of executive branch picks that were agreed to by unanimous consent Friday, but that a GOP Senator had placed a hold on Perez.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.