Senator David Vitter (R-La.) has just announced his commitment to block the appointment of Thomas E. Perez as President Obama’s Secretary of the Labor Department. Perez is currently the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, and he would replace Hilda Solis in this position after her abrupt resignation in January.
Senator Vitter’s office relayed this statement to reporters across the United States Monday, claiming that they would not support the nomination until the Department of Justice releases information regarding Perez’s alleged involvement in the enforcement of the National Voter Registration Act in Louisiana. According to the proclamation, “Perez was closely involved in the controversial New Black Panther voter intimidation case before the Department of Justice.”
Senator Vitter wrote a letter in 2011 to the attorney general at the time, Eric H. Holder, Jr., regarding this issue. In the letter, Vitter addresses a lawsuit that the DOJ filed accusing Louisiana that they did not comply with Section 7 of the NVRA, which states that specific government offices are required to provide voter registration forms. This letter explicitly mentions Thomas Perez, as his current occupation in the DOJ entails him to oversee voting-rights concerns.
The GOP senator is quoted in the press release saying, “Thomas Perez’s record should be met with great suspicion by my colleagues for his spotty work related to the New Black Panther case, but Louisianians most certainly should have cause for concern about this nomination.”
While the Senator addresses the allegations regarding Perez’s involvement in the Black Panther case, Vitter also expresses disapproval of him because of his involvement in “the DOJ’s partisan full court press to pressure Louisiana’s Secretary of State to only enforce one side of the law — the side that specifically benefits the politics of the president and his administration at the expense of identity security of each and every Lousianian on the voter rolls.”
There have currently been no press releases indicating that other senators will join Vitter’s blocking efforts. However, when President Obama nominated Chuck Hagel for the Secretary of Defense, Republican members of the Senate blocked his initial appointment and the Democrats failed to get the necessary 60 votes favoring the candidate; the Republicans' were at odds with his views on Israel. Additionally, earlier in this month, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) started a Senate filibuster after Obama nominated John Brennan to be the director of the CIA. While this filibuster only lasted thirteen hours, Rand initiated it after clashing with Brennan’s position on the newly implemented drone program.
Whether other members of the Senate will block Perez’s nomination remains to be seen.