Republican senators have asked to delay the committee vote scheduled for Thursday on Tom Perez until the Labor Department nominee can provide answers to more questions about his involvement in a disputed deal with the city of St. Paul, Minn.
Nine Republicans on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, including ranking member Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), signed the April 22 letter to HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), contending that a vote would be “premature for consideration because there are a number of requests for information that remain outstanding.”
They asked Perez to explain whether the Department of Justice agreed not to intervene in a False Claims Act lawsuit against the city if the city withdrew a housing discrimination case, Magner v. Gallagher, before the Supreme Court.
Those requests include allowing the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to interview two employees from the Department of Housing and Urban Development who have knowledge a False Claims Act case initiated by St. Paul businessman Frederick Newell, who had alleged the city misused federal job assistance funds.
The senators also asked that the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General make available the transcript of Perez’s interview with Inspector General Michael Horowitz about an IG report released last month that found a “disappointing lack of professionalism” in the division’s Voting Section during the Obama and Bush administrations.
Finally, the senators requested that more work-related emails from Perez’s personal account be turned over to the House Oversight committee and to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
But Harkin rejected all of these requests, and said the vote would proceed as planned.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrel Issa (R-Calif.) can subpoena these individuals “if he is not satisfied with HUD’s response,” Harkin wrote in his reply.
“The Inspector general has a longstanding policy against disclosure of interview transcripts,” the Iowa senator added in response to the second request. “Neither the Department of Justice nor Mr. Perez has the ability to compel the Inspector General to depart from this policy.”
Finally, Harkin wrote that he firmly believes “there is no basis for obtaining any additional emails that were evaluated and deemed unrelated to previous requests.”
Only Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) did not sign the letter. Her office did not immediately return requests for comment about whether she would be supporting the nominee.
The committee, which has 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans, has scheduled a vote for Thursday, April 25, in room 430 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.