A Senate committee today delayed a vote on Tom Perez's nomination as Labor Department secretary after Republicans asked for more time to get information about his work at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, said in a statement that he agreed to postpone the vote until May 8. Earlier this week, Harkin indicated he would not push back the vote.
"While I continue to believe there are no impediments to Mr. Perez's confirmation, I am agreeing to postpone his committee vote until May 8th, in order to allow those Senators who have asked the time to request additional information they believe they need, and to evaluate his qualifications," Harkin said in a statement.
Republicans on the committee have expressed concern about Perez's management of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, which was the focus of an investigation by several Republican members of Congress.
At Perez's April 18 confirmation hearing, Ranking Member Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) asked Perez, the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, to provide emails for which there is an outstanding subpoena, as well as copies of transcribed interviews gathered during a Department of Justice Inspector General's investigation of the division.
Alexander said two Republicans—House Oversight Committee Chairman Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)—believe the subpoenas have been complied with "only partially," and two witnesses in the Department of Housing and Urban Development have not been made available for interviews to the House committee.
Republicans have also raised concerns about Perez's involvement in a "secret deal" to settle a whistle-blower case in Minnesota, actions Alexander characterized as "manipulating the legal process" in a way that "is inappropriate for an assistant attorney general."
They want to know how Perez orchestrated the deal with St. Paul to drop two False Claims Act cases—where the government potentially could have recovered $200 million, according to Grassley—in exchange for the city dropping an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court related to the disparate impact legal theory. When Perez took over the Civil Rights Division in 2009, he said DOJ had "dusted off" that legal theory.
Harkin has said he does not know why the deal is controversial and thinks the Justice Department "made the right call."