Menendez Senate Floor Remarks on the Impending Confirmation of Thomas Perez

Menendez Senate Floor Remarks on the Impending Confirmation of Thomas Perez

“I ask my Republican colleagues to drop their empty rhetoric and baseless objections to Tom Perez’s nomination when he comes before the full Senate for consideration. Let us govern together. Enough is enough.”

WASHINGTON DC - In remarks today on the floor of the United States Senate, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Democratic Hispanic Task Force, reiterated his full support for Thomas Perez's nomination to be our nation's next Secretary of Labor. After overcoming a series of procedural tactics used by Republican Senators to delay a Committee vote, Perez's nomination cleared the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee and is now pending final consideration before the full Senate.

Last week, in advance of the HELP Committee vote, Sen. Menendez and twelve other Senate Democratic Hispanic Task Force Members sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin to reiterate their strong support for Tom Perez's nomination.

Click here for a video of his remarks.

Senator Menendez's floor statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:

"I rise today to reiterate my strong support for Tom Perez - a man eminently qualified to serve our country as the next Secretary of Labor. I am pleased that the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee voted last Thursday to favorably report Mr. Perez's nomination to the full Senate, but we must remember that this step forward came only after weeks of delay.

This is the week we should have been on this floor debating and voting on the confirmation of Tom Perez, but we're not. Instead, delaying tactics on this and other nominees have now needlessly, pointlessly pushed this debate into next month.

Let me state for the record that the obstruction we have seen thus far in the confirmation process is completely unacceptable - and for the sake of the American people, for the sake of good governance, it must end.

And it doesn't stop at the Department of Labor - Republicans have refused to take up nominees at the NLRB, threatening the operation of this critical agency. It appears any agency that stands up for workers' rights is under attack.

Let's just do the job the American people sent us here to do.

Tom Perez is the quintessential public servant but apparently that's not enough for my colleagues on the other side. He's a consensus builder, but that's not enough. As Secretary of Labor in Maryland, he brought together the Chamber of Commerce and Maryland labor unions to make sure workers received the level of wages and benefits they deserve, and business had the skilled the workforce they need. Not enough!

It's not enough that he's Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, where he increased prosecution of human trafficking by 40 percent, won $50 million for service members whose homes were improperly foreclosed on while they served, and settled the three largest fair lending cases in the history of the Fair Housing Act, recovering more money for victims in 2012 than in the previous 23 years combined.Not enough!

It's not enough that he spent his entire career in public service. Not enough to be a Brown University graduate or have a Masters in Public Policy from the Kennedy School or a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law.

No, the truth is, my friends on the other side are looking to block this nomination because Tom Perez is not enough of a Republican to pass muster.

He's too much of an advocate for people with disabilities, achieving the largest ever disability-based housing discrimination settlement.

Too much of a civil rights champion: He obtained the first convictions under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and has been a strong supporter of ending discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. They seem to hate the Civil Rights Division, but who could deny the importance of their work.

Tom Perez is just too much for my friends on the other side who want to block this nominee, and insist on obstructing, obfuscating, and politicizing everything that comes before Congress. The fact is, Mr. President, this isn't about Tom Perez - it's about rendering government helpless and standing in the way of any effort to govern.

Tom Perez is a good man. He's a qualified, competent, professional public servant, nominated by the President and already confirmed by the Senate to the post he holds today. I endorsed Tom Perez after meeting him, and I continue to stand firmly by him as a nominee.

But what I won't stand for is Republicans blocking his nomination for no reason, without any real objection - only an ideological objection to allowing this President or this Congress to govern, or at least to select a Cabinet that will help us do so.

As I said when I first endorsed Tom Perez, and I will say again today:

"He is an outstanding public servant, and I applaud President Obama for selecting him to be our nation's next Secretary of Labor. I have no doubt that he will continue the Administration's efforts to create jobs and get people back to work.

Mr. Perez has dedicated his career to championing the rights of workers and all Americans, and I am confident that he will continue do the same if confirmed.

As former Secretary of Labor in Maryland, Mr. Perez prioritized matching community colleges, labor unions, and the private sector to help get people jobs that are in demand today and in the future - an initiative that is much needed on a national scale, and something I have proposed in legislation that would close the skills gap by training workers with the skills needed to fill such jobs."

Mr. President, enough is enough. This is a remarkable nominee who brings a compelling personal story and a wealth of knowledge and leadership to the Department of Labor.

At a time when Republicans should be reaching out to Hispanic Americans rather than reverting back to the same-old political strategies that failed them during the last election, it is unfortunate that the President's first Hispanic choice for his second-term cabinet continues to be under attack.

It does not have to be that way. Mr. Perez deserves an up-or-down vote, and he deserves to be swiftly confirmed as the next Secretary of Labor. To my friends on the other side: Stop the obstructionism and do what's right for the country.

Our economic recovery and America's workforce cannot afford to wait while partisan politics and unmerited accusations delay his confirmation.

I ask my Republican colleagues to drop their empty rhetoric and baseless objections to Tom Perez's nomination when he comes before the full Senate for consideration. Let us govern together. Enough is enough."

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