Senate Republicans on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee sent a letter today to committee chairman Tom Harkin asking that he delay the committee mark-up regarding Obama labor-secretary nominee Tom Perez.
In the letter, nine Republicans on the HELP committee, including ranking member Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) and Rand Paul (R., Ky.), ask that the mark-up occur later than Wednesday, when it is currently scheduled, saying that the nomination is “premature for consideration because there are a number of requests for information that remain outstanding.” While the committee’s hearing on Perez last week left him relatively unscathed, this move suggests that committee Republicans have lingering concerns about him.
The focus remains on Perez’s involvement in arranging an alleged quid pro quo deal between the Justice Department and the City of St. Paul to prevent a case on disparate impact from reaching the Supreme Court. A report issued by congressional Republicans last week found that the arrangement was “largely the result of the machinations of one man: Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez.”
Before considering Perez’s nomination further, committee Republicans want access to two witnesses involved in the quid pro quo case and copies of e-mails about government affairs that Perez sent from his personal e-mail account. They also want transcripts of conversations used for a Department of Justice inspector-general report on how the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division’s voting section, which Perez headed, behaved on certain cases. Perez’s record on voting laws during his tenure at DOJ has come under fire from both senators David Vitter (R., Louisiana) and Tim Scott (R., S.C.).
“We believe a president should have the service of his cabinet but we also take seriously our obligation to review carefully a nominee’s fitness for office,” write the senators. “Without the requested information, we cannot complete that evaluation.”