Labor secretary nominee narrowly survives Senate vote

The Senate voted 60-40 Wednesday, narrowly ending debate on the controversial nomination of Tom Perez to be secretary of Labor.

Republicans agreed to hold an up-or-down vote on his nomination as part of a deal to avoid Senate rule changes limiting the minority's right to filibuster executive branch nominees.

The close vote — 60 votes were needed to move the nomination forward — came after several GOP senators complained that Perez has engaged in “ethically questionable” actions while heading the Civil Rights division of the Department of Justice.

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“We have a Department of Labor nominee that has a record of ideological, polarizing leadership,” Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMcConnell tees up House Puerto Rico bill Dem senator urges support for House Puerto Rico bill GOP senator praises Supreme Court's abortion ruling MORE (R-Texas) said ahead of the vote. “I believe Mr. Perez’s record disqualifies him from running this or any other federal agency.”

GOP Sens. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderBipartisan gun measure survives test vote Overnight Healthcare: GOP plan marks new phase in ObamaCare fight Stoddard: The great Trump rebellion MORE (Tenn.), Susan CollinsSusan CollinsReid: McConnell silence on Trump 'speaks volumes' The Hill's 12:30 Report GOP senator praises Supreme Court's abortion ruling MORE (Maine), Bob CorkerBob CorkerGOP senator: Something 'very, very good' can come from Brexit vote GOP senators: Brexit vote a wake-up call Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote MORE (Tenn.), Mark KirkMark KirkOvernight Healthcare: Biggest abortion rights win in 25 years | Justice Kennedy again steps to the left The Trail 2016: Warren takes VP batting practice Abortion ruling roils race for the White House, Senate MORE (Ill.), John McCainJohn McCainOvernight Defense: Pentagon hails Fallujah's recapture | Texts to VA suicide hotline went unanswered Defense contingency misuse threatens national security Former Bush national security official backing Clinton over Trump MORE (Ariz.) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiGOP senator praises Supreme Court's abortion ruling Kerry visits Arctic Circle to see climate impacts Senate panel clears EPA spending bill, blocking rules MORE (Alaska) voted with Democrats to advance Perez in his nomination process. There will be 30 hours of debate before a final vote on Perez's nomination unless time is yielded back, meaning the vote could happen as early as Thursday evening.

Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioThe Trail 2016: Warren takes VP batting practice Abortion ruling roils race for the White House, Senate US, Mexico have mutual ambassadors for first time in over a year MORE (R-Fla.) urged his Republican colleagues to ignore the deal made to allow up-or-down votes on several of Obama’s executive branch nominees.

“This is the Labor department,” Rubio shouted on the Senate floor. “I am shocked that there are members of my own conference that are willing to go forward on this nominee.”

Rubio said Perez failed to answer lawmakers’ questions during his confirmation hearing.

“We’re being asked to vote to invoke cloture on the nomination of someone who has open contempt to a congressional subpoena,” Rubio said. “This is wrong. How can we possibly — I don’t care what deal was cut — how can we move forward on someone who hasn’t provided information asked for by a congressional committee?”

Sen. Tom HarkinTom HarkinDo candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? The Hill's 12:30 Report Mark Mellman: Parsing the primary processes MORE (D-Iowa) said Rubio’s claim that Perez is violating a congressional subpoena is “just plain wrong.” Harkin said Perez submitted the 35 emails in question to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and that the Department of Justice now has the emails from his personal account on file.

Sen. Ben CardinBen CardinMcConnell tees up House Puerto Rico bill GOP senators: Brexit vote a wake-up call Dems take over floor to protest Senate inaction on gun control MORE (D-Md.) defended Perez’s history of public service.

“Tom Perez has a long history of public service,” Cardin said. “He is a good person who is in public service for the right reasons. … As secretary of Labor, he will use that position to provide the balance we need in our commercial communities … so everyone can benefit from our great economy.”

Republicans have accused Perez of intervening in two court cases for his own "political agenda."

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