Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Marco Rubio to oppose Thomas Perez as Labor Secretary

Posted By on Wed, May 8, 2013 at 4:11 PM

Today, Marco Rubio announced that he will oppose Thomas Perez to fill President Obama's Secretary of Labor post, just hours before the nomination was set to go before a Senate committee. The post has been vacant since Hilda Solis left in January.

In a press release, Rubio said, "Our nation deserves a proven administrator who is committed to maximizing opportunities for the American worker, not a liberal activist who has pushed the boundaries of public office to advance his agenda."

Perez, 51, was Maryland's labor secretary from 2007 to 2009, before serving as Assistant U.S. Attorney General. Because Democrats control the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, he is expected to clear that vote. But when he comes up for a vote before the entire Senate, well, it may be too soon to predict the outcome.

Among the issues that Rubio alluded to is Perez's role at the Department of Justice in persuading the city of St. Paul, Minn., to drop a Supreme Court case that Republicans said would have undermined a government enforcement tool in housing discrimination cases. Tennessee's Lamar Alexander said Perez's "wheeling and dealing" to keep the Justice Department out of it cost the Treasury as much as $200 million.

Other issues that individual Republican senators have brought up as problematic include Perez's role as as a former board president of CASA de Maryland, an immigrant advocacy group. Louisiana's David Vitter also said he would block the nominee regarding questions related to the work he's done to enforce voter-registration laws.

Rubio said that before joining the Obama administration, Perez built a long record as a committed liberal activist and politician, "specifically regarding labor and immigration."

"Those who voted against his confirmation then feared that he lacked the capacity to put his political agenda aside when he became a federal official tasked with enforcing the law," Rubio said. "Unfortunately, his record as Assistant U.S. Attorney General confirmed those fears."

Perez is the child of Dominican immigrants, and if confirmed, would be the only Latino serving in Obama's second term. Yesterday, Miami Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia said Perez is "eminently qualified," and if Republicans wanted to show an understanding of the Hispanic electorate or sympathy for the Hispanic electorate, "they picked the wrong guy to make a scapegoat."

Rubio referred to Perez's Latino roots in his statement, "As the son of immigrants, Mr. Perez rose from modest beginnings to the highest levels of government through his obviously sharp intellect and impressive work ethic. Many Americans, especially those of us of Hispanic descent, celebrate his success and his personal story as yet another example of all that's possible in America no matter where you or your family came from. Unfortunately, intellect and work ethic are not sufficient qualifications for a cabinet secretary ... Mr. Perez's far left views and troubling record at the Justice Department simply do not qualify him to lead the Labor Department, and I will strongly oppose his confirmation."

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