Perez Passes Senate Judiciary Committee
By Andrew Ramonas | June 4, 2022 11:22 am

Thomas Perez, President Obama’s pick to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning with only two Republicans voting against his nomination.

Thomas Perez

Thomas Perez

Only Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) opposed his appointment in the 17-2 vote. The Perez nomination will now go before the full Senate for consideration.

Sessions, the ranking member of the committee, said Perez is an outspoken supporter of illegal immigrant rights, and raised concerns about Perez’s prior work on the board of CASA de Maryland, an influential immigrant advocacy group that has come under fire by anti-immigrations groups. Perez, a Dominican American, was CASA’s president when it lobbied the Maryland General Assembly in 2002 against a proposal to make it harder for immigrants to obtain drivers licenses, according to The Los Angeles Times.

“My concern is that we need someone who is faithful to protecting all American people,” Sessions said. “I am worried this nominee has an agenda that is not healthy and can politicize the department.”

Sessions previously brought up Perez’s involvement with CASA in a written question. Perez did not elaborate on his past with the organization, but assured Sessions he would be fair in handling immigration issues.

“If confirmed, I will work to enforce the laws that fall under the jurisdiction of the Civil Rights Division in a fair and even-handed manner,” Perez wrote.

Coburn had different concerns about Perez. He said 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.”

“He has a perverse sense of our obligations,” Coburn said referring to doctors.

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) also expressed concern over Perez’s views on immigration, but ended up supporting his nomination. The minority whip said he expects Perez would uphold the rule of law and support all Americans.

“In one sense, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt,” Kyl said.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was also slated to vote on Mary L. Smith, Obama’s pick to lead the Justice Department Tax Division, and the States Secret Protection Act. The committee will consider the nomination and bill at its business meeting next Thursday.



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The Senate Democratic leader describes the Republicans' refusal to hold hearings on President Obama's eventual Supreme Court nominee "historically unbelievable and historically unprecedented."

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