Vote on Tom Perez Possible Before August Recess
By Andrew Ramonas | July 28, 2009 7:26 pm

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said in an interview today with Main Justice that a vote on Justice Department Civil Rights Division nominee Thomas Perez could happen “as early as next week.”

Tom Perez (maryland.gov)

Tom Perez (maryland.gov)

The Maryland senator said confirming Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is a top priority for the Senate before it starts its month long recess next week. But a vote on Perez before the August recess is still possible, he said.

“I hope that we can move it before the recess,” Cardin said. “We’re going to try.”

Perez is currently Maryland’s labor secretary. Cardin, a Senate Judiciary Committee member from Perez’s home state, said he had several meetings with Republicans who opposed the Perez nomination, which was reported out of committee on June 4 by a vote of 17-2. Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) were the only senators to oppose Perez in committee.

Sessions, the ranking member of the committee, called into question last month Perez’s prior work on the board of CASA de Maryland, an influential immigrant advocacy group that has come under fire by anti-immigration groups.

Coburn said last month that Perez, former director of the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has supported providing translators to illegal immigrants who are receiving medical care. The Oklahoma senator, a medical doctor who operated on people without U.S. citizenship, said providing illegal immigrants with interpreters would “wreck health care.”

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said Coburn and Sessions got a “much clearer view” of Perez from one of the meetings they had with Cardin. Sessions said that that the meeting he had with Cardin, Kyl and Coburn was “a good meeting.”

Cardin said he wasn’t aware of any current efforts by the Republicans to delay a vote on Perez.

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