A vote on Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez's nomination for Labor secretary was delayed again Wednesday, hours after Senate Republicans hinted that they will try to block him from being confirmed.
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions was scheduled to vote Wednesday to approve Perez and send his nomination to the full Senate. Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said Wednesday afternoon that the Republican caucus "have now used procedural roadblocks" to delay that vote until May 16.
Harkin already had delayed Perez's committee vote on the request of Republicans, who said they wanted more time to get information about his work at the U.S. Department of Justice. Republicans prevented the committee from meeting Wednesday by not going along with a routine procedure that allows for afternoon committee hearings, a Democratic aide said.
Earlier Wednesday on the Senate floor, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) criticized Perez for past actions at the Justice Department and in Maryland state politics, calling him a "crusading ideologue" who has "a flippant and dismissive attitude" toward the rule of law. Perez leads the Justice Department's civil rights division.
"Taken together, all of this paints the picture, for me at least, not of a passionate liberal who sees himself as patiently operating within the system and through the democratic process to advance a particular set of strongly held beliefs, but a crusading ideologue whose conviction about his own rightness on the issues leads him to believe the law does not apply to him," McConnell said.
"Americans of all political persuasions have a right to expect that the head of such a sensitive federal department, whether appointed by a Republican or a Democrat, will implement and follow the law in a fair and reasonable way," McConnell said. "But I do not believe they could expect as much from Mr. Perez."