Latino Groups Fighting Obstruction Of Labor Secretary Nominee

Senate Republican obstruction of President Obama’s nominee for secretary of labor, Thomas Perez, got a strong rebuke from a coalition of Latino organizations that held a march and rally on Wednesday to call for an end to the filibuster threats to his nomination.

“We are here to put forward our full support for Tom Perez as the Secretary of Labor. He is eminently qualified for the post after a distinguished career in law and public service,” said Janet Murguia, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza. Joining Murguia were representatives from the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, CASA de Maryland, United Farm Workers and the Hispanic National Bar Association.

“Tom Perez is a respected and beloved leader in the Latino community. He has been a champion for Hispanic families, and we are here for him because he has been there for us,” Murguia said. “We urge the senators opposed to this nomination to stop their unconscionable delaying tactics and allowing this nomination to go forward. Tom deserves a vote, and we as a Latino community, are watching very closely.”

Perez is one of the dozens of Obama appointees who have fallen victim to the GOP’s obstructionism in the Senate. In Obama’s first term, the average nominee took more than four times as long to be confirmed as a nominee of President George W. Bush. The obstruction is only being ratcheted up in Obama’s second term; last week Republicans refused to show up at a committee hearing to stall the confirmation of Obama’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy. Republicans are using what they call Perez’ “ideological background” as their excuse to delay the nomination vote, which has been rescheduled for Thursday.

“It is totally unacceptable what is happening now in the Senate. There is enough proof to show that he is a qualified candidate to be our next Secretary of Labor, and to be on the front lines fighting for working families,” said Hector Sanchez, Chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda.

Sanchez went on to point out the civil rights issues that Perez has taken up, including fighting the SB 1070 “papers please” immigration law in Arizona; HB 56 in Alabama, the nation’s “toughest immigration law”; and voting rights issues.

“Tom Perez can work with the entire society, not only with Latinos and workers, but with everybody,” said Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA de Maryland, citing his work with migrant workers as well as high marks given to him by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and his work with the largest employers in Maryland.

“Unfortunately, he faces opposition from some Senators who say that he has been to vigorous in enforcing our nation’s civil rights laws, said Peter Reyes, President of the Hispanic National Bar Association, “When Tom Perez was nominated to serve at the Justice Department, he was confirmed by a vote of 72-22, with seventeen Republican senators who voted for him, including nine who are still in the Senate today. Those senators voted for Tom Perez to do a job, he did his job and he did it well. Some senators will never vote for a Tom Perez, and that is fine, but they should not be blocking the rest of the Senate from an up-or-down vote.”

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