Statement for the Record: Nomination of Thomas Perez as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor

Jul 18, 2013 Issues: Labor

Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) submitted the following remarks into the Congressional Record.

Mr. President: I rise today to express my opposition to the nomination of Thomas Perez to be Secretary of Labor.
 
Given our relentlessly high rate of unemployment over the past 55 months and stagnant economic growth, we simply must do more to foster lasting economic prosperity. After analyzing Mr. Perez’s role at the Department of Justice, I do not believe he is the proper candidate to help our nation return to full employment or reach our economic potential.  I have great concerns regarding some of the decisions he has made, the professionalism and ethics of those decisions, and his overall management abilities. The Department of Labor has, unfortunately, pursued guidance and rulemakings that are daunting to large and small businesses alike, and I believe Mr. Perez would only exacerbate these problems.
 
Mr. Perez accrued an alarming record of mismanagement and utter politicization of the law during his tenure at the Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ’s Inspector General 2013 report gave a highly critical review of the Voting Section under Mr. Perez, citing the “politically charged atmosphere and polarization within the Voting Section” and the “dysfunctional management chain” under Mr. Perez. Furthermore, the report indicated that the handling of the New Black Panther Party case under his leadership “risked undermining confidence in the non-ideological enforcement of the voting rights laws.”
 
When I look at the non-partisan Inspector General report and the way in which Mr. Perez has pursued policies singling out certain conservative states and industries, I simply cannot support his nomination. The Voting Section’s decision to override career DOJ staff to block the implementation of my home state of South Carolina’s voter ID law is a prime example of this trend. Only after South Carolina spent more than $3.5 million suing the DOJ in federal court did our law take effect. Yet, even on the heels of defeat in federal court, Mr. Perez was still dissatisfied and decided to send DOJ officials down to monitor a special municipal election in Branchville, S.C. – a town with a voting population of 800 and where fewer than 200 people voted in the special municipal election.
 
Finally, I believe it is irresponsible and an abdication of Congressional authority to move a nominee who has repeatedly failed to comply with an outstanding congressional subpoena. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee issued a bipartisan subpoena on April 10, 2013 regarding 1200 emails sent from Mr. Perez’s non-official email account that referred to official business of the Department of Justice. Mr. Perez’s failure to comply with this obligation casts considerable doubt on the deference he would give to Congress as Secretary.
 
What we need at the Department of Labor is simple – a secretary who will put politics aside and a strong management structure in place to help get our economy back on track. States, businesses, and employees cannot afford to have a Secretary of Labor who seeks to micromanage and politicize the most mundane aspects of everyday life. For these reasons, I oppose Mr. Perez’s nomination.