By Vicki Needham - 05/08/13 02:11 PM EDT
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a vote Wednesday afternoon on Perez, who will probably clear the panel but on a party-line vote. After that, he faces a difficult, if not impossible, trek to the Labor Department with House and Senate Republicans calling for him to release hundreds of documents and answer dozens of additional questions about his work at Justice.
But he said, later, when working for the federal government, he refused to protect the right of all races to vote, which was in violation of the very law he was charged to enforce.
“In short, it means a lack of respect for the rule of law – and a lack of respect for the need of those in positions of power to follow it," McConnell said.
McConnell also brought up the issue that was the topic of his confirmation hearing and of a joint hearing on Tuesday in the House.
House and Senate Republicans argue that Perez brokered an unethical deal in convincing St. Paul officials to drop a Supreme Court appeal that would have had a potentially adverse effect on discrimination cases in exchange for keeping the Justice Department from intervening in two whistleblower cases. They say the cases could have brought the U.S. government upward of $200 million in damages.
McConnell said his actions in the case "fits the pattern" of how Perez has tried to circumvent law in the past.
As Labor secretary, Perez would be "handling numerous contentious issues and implementing many politically sensitive laws, including laws enforcing the disclosure of political activity by unions."
"Is that the kind of approach to federal law we want in those we confirm to run federal agencies? Folks who think that if federal law is inconvenient to their ends they can simply characterize it as unclear and use that as an excuse to do what they want," McConnell asked.
“If that’s not a red flag for those of us who have to review a presidential nominee, I don’t know what is."
He said Perez's "devotion to the cause of involuntary universal voter registration is also deeply concerning to me personally."
“Americans of all political persuasions have a right to expect that the head of such a sensitive federal department, whether appointed by a Republican or a Democrat, will implement and follow the law in a fair and reasonable way," he said.
“But I do not believe they could expect as much from Mr. Perez.”