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House GOP Needles Labor Nominee on Eve of Senate Committee Vote

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Republicans argue that Perez, above, improperly brokered a deal with the city of St. Paul, Minn.

“We heard everything at the confirmation hearing on Mr. Perez’s side of the story,” Isakson added. “Democrats did a good job of explaining why this was not an issue. But then when we tried to get the other side of the story and they canceled the meeting, it obviously raises questions that need to be answered.”

Isakson said the delay of the confirmation vote did allow Perez to respond to several questions Republicans wanted answered. They also received requested copies of work-related emails that Perez sent from his personal email account while conducting government business and transcripts of interviews that DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General conducted during its investigation of the Civil Rights Division that Perez oversees.

“Mr. Perez responded to the questions we submitted,” Isakson said. “I’m still going through those responses to try and see if they satisfy both the spirit and intent of the questions. I’ll make my decision before the hearing tomorrow based on that.”

Past Republican Support

Despite the sniping that has surrounded Perez since President Barack Obama nominated him on March 18, no Republicans signaled that they plan to vote against him during the HELP Committee’s April 18 confirmation hearing.

While not a member of that committee, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., has promised to try to block Perez on the Senate floor because of concerns that the Civil Rights Division practiced “selective enforcement” of a voter registration law. Vitter said last month that he will demand a 60-vote threshold for confirmation.

But some other Senate Republicans might be uneasy about opposing Perez after handily losing the Latino vote in last year’s presidential election. The Harvard-educated Perez, whose family immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic, would be the only Hispanic in Obama’s second-term Cabinet if he is confirmed to succeed Hilda L. Solis, who resigned in January.

Back in October 2009, nine current Republican senators voted for Perez when he was confirmed as the head of the Civil Rights Division. Perez was confirmed by a vote of 72-22.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus held a news conference Tuesday afternoon to urge Senate confirmation of Perez.

“My colleagues across the aisle are trying to smear his record at the Department of Justice,” said Rep. Linda T. Sánchez, D-Calif. “I want to be crystal clear here: Tom Perez is one of the finest advocates for civil rights that we have in this country.”

Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., noted that Republicans “have been saying rhetorically that they would like to get the Hispanic community’s attention.”

“As far as I’m concerned, if they want to earn that attention, so be it,” Cardenas said. “But what they are doing today is a shame and it’s a sham. They’re just playing political games and they’re not putting the American worker first.”

Corrected the number of current Senators who voted for Perez's confirmation in 2009.

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