Thomas Perez Finally Backed for Labor Department by Senate Committee

Thomas E. Perez

voxxiBy Rocio Gonzalez, Voxxi

Third time’s the charm. President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Labor Department, Thomas Perez, was finally approved by the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, after this vote was postponed two other times.

Republican opposition was not enough to stop Perez’s nomination. This was the third time a vote had been scheduled, since the first time the vote was postponed at the request of Republicans, who said they needed more time to evaluate the candidate, or else. The second time, a Republican member of the Senate invoked an infrequently used procedural tactic that prevents committees from meeting on days when the Senate meets, a rule that is usually ignored.

This time around, the committee approved Perez while sticking to party lines in a 12 -10 vote. All Republicans voted against the Dominican’s appointment. That’s enough indication that this won’t go smoothly when it is time for the entire Senate to vote, especially with the controversy the Department of Justice is currently involved in. Perez is currently the assistant attorney general for the department’s Civil Rights Division, and would become the first Hispanic to join the Obama cabinet for the president’s second term, after Hilda Solis left her post at the Labor Department and Ken Salazar stepped down at the Interior Department.

“Republicans have accused Perez of making decisions guided by left-wing ideology rather than the pursuit of justice,” writes Sam Hananel for the Associated Press. “His supporters call Perez a consensus builder who is the target of politically motivated attacks.”

A small victory for Obama to fill the Labor Department post

For now, it’s a small victory for the majority. Sen. Bob Menendez released a statement saying he was pleased with today’s development, although not with the fact that there wasn’t a bi-partisan effort to pass Perez.

“Republicans continue to try and block Mr. Perez’s confirmation for no reason, without any real objection — only an ideological objection to allowing this President or this Congress to govern, or at least to select a Cabinet that will help us do so.

“At a time when Republicans should be reaching out to Hispanic Americans rather than reverting back to the same-old political strategies that failed them during the last election, it is unfortunate that the President’s first Hispanic choice for his second-term cabinet continues to be under attack. I urge my Republican colleagues to stop the obstructionism and do what’s right for the country: vote to confirm Tom Perez as the next Secretary of Labor when his nomination comes before the full Senate for consideration.”

This article was first published in Voxxi.

Rocio Gonzalez is a multimedia editor for VOXXI. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, she is an avid reader, amateur baker and a journalism graduate from American University in Washington, D.C.

[Photo by Center for American Progress]

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