House Democrats shore up ranks behind Labor nominee

Hoyer joined Rep. Linda Sánchez (Calif.) and 137 House Democrats in writing a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) asking for consideration of Perez's nomination on the Senate floor. 

"America’s workers deserve a Labor Department operating at full capacity, especially as our economic recovery moves forward," he said.

But there is a wide gulf between Republicans and Democrats on the Perez nomination and his fate is uncertain considering the strong opposition of the GOP, including McConnell. 

Last week, the Republican leader said that Perez has shown a habit during his career of circumventing the law to achieve his desired goals. 

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) sharply rebuked McConnell's remarks, saying the drawn out confirmation process has only proven that Perez acted ethically and appropriately in his work at Justice. 

House and Senate Republicans argue that Perez brokered an unethical deal in convincing city of St. Paul, Minn., officials to drop a Supreme Court appeal that would have had a potentially adverse effect on the disparate impact theory used in discrimination cases in exchange for keeping the Justice Department from intervening in two whistleblower cases they say could have brought the U.S. government millions in damages.

They also say he used a personal email account to share nonpublic government information.

During Thursday's meeting, panel Republicans said Perez has failed to comply with several of their requests for more information about their concerns, which is why they could not support him now. 

In the House letter, lawmakers said that Perez is qualified for the Cabinet slot because of his ability to build consensus approaches to solving problems. 

"Perez would bring vigor to his new post that will serve the American economy well, by helping improve the skills of American workers to qualify for better-paying jobs and providing employers with a stronger workforce able to compete in the global market," the lawmakers wrote. 

They touted his division's increase in productivity, citing a Justice inspector general's report released March 12 showing that Perez has made changes to restore merit-based hiring practices and that "none of the decisions regarding enforcement of voting rights laws have been based on racial or partisan political considerations."

Under Perez, his division has increased prosecutions of human trafficking by 40 percent, convicted 74 percent more defendants on hate crimes charges, handled a record number of new voting cases last year, won $50 million for service members whose lost their homes because of improper foreclosures, and he recovered more than $600 million from housing discrimination cases last year, more money in one year than in the previous 23 years combined, they wrote. 

"We believe that Mr. Perez’s record of achievement, especially his proven ability to successfully lead a state’s labor department, make him a strong candidate for secretary of Labor," the wrote.  

"We therefore respectfully urge you to vote in favor of his confirmation in a timely fashion."