Attorney General Eric Holder in a New Mexico speech urged the Senate to move on his nominee to head the Civil Rights Division.
The Senate Judiciary Committee sent Thomas Perez’s nomination to the full Senate on June 4. But he’s faced headwinds in Congress. Last month, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith (R-Texas) urged Senate Republicans to put a hold on Perez’s nomination until the DOJ gives Congress more information about a voter-intimidation case involving the New Black Panther Party. Delays on Perez’s confirmation are putting a wrench in Holder’s efforts to reshape the Civil Rights Division.
Holder told lawyers gathered for the Hispanic National Bar Association Annual Conference in Albuquerque, N.M. on Thursday that DOJ needs Perez and another nominee, Ignacia Moreno, in place as soon as possible. Moreno, President Obama’s choice to head the Environment and Natural Resources Division, will testify in a Sept. 9 confirmation hearing. Obama nominated her June 8. Both nominees are backed by the HNBA.
“The Justice Department and the nation will benefit from Tom’s and Ignacia’s leadership,” Holder said in prepared remarks. “The resolution of many of the problems our country faces will be hastened by their entry on duty at Justice.”
Perez is Maryland’s labor secretary and a former special counsel to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) Moreno served as a principal counsel and a special assistant in the DOJ’s environment division during the Clinton administration. She is currently a counsel at General Electric Co.
Three other Assistant Attorney General nominees are also awaiting action by the full Senate: Office of Legal Counsel nominee Dawn Johnsen, Tax Division nominee Mary L. Smith and Office of Legal Policy nominee Christopher Schroeder.
Johnsen was reported out of committee March 19. Smith was endorsed by the Senate panel June 11. Schroeder got the panel’s nod July 28.