I have been trying to understand the reluctance and outright refusal of Senate GOP members to discuss the nomination of Thomas E. Perez as President Obama’s nominee for U. S. Labor Secretary.
It is a happy coincidence that Republicans, by and large, have shown an increasingly welcoming attitude toward Latinos. More Latinos are represented in both parties and more Hispanic leaders are helping to make their voices heard, at the state and national level. Yet, we find ourselves at another crossroads and roadblock.
How exactly is this part of the Republican strategy to win over Latino votes?
- Jose Calderon
Republican leaders in the Senate are currently engaged in a concerted effort to squash the nomination of an imminently qualified Latino leader who clearly embodies the “up-by-your-boot-straps” story we embrace across America. If confirmed, Mr. Perez would be the first (and so far only) Hispanic member of Mr. Obama’s second-term cabinet. So, what’s the problem with Mr. Perez?
Let's look at the facts. A first generation immigrant who gained scholarships and worked multiple jobs to put himself through college, Tom Perez received his Bachelor of Arts in international relations and political science from Brown University in 1983. He went on to receive his Juris Doctor cum laude from Harvard Law School and a Master of Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1987. Upon graduation, he began a spectacular career in public service that has spanned more than twenty-five years. He has served our nation as a law clerk, prosecutor, professor, elected official, civil rights lawyer and Secretary for Maryland's Department of Labor. In every position, Mr. Perez has been lauded as an enormously talented and dedicated public servant.
In recognition of his impressive professional achievements, President Obama nominated Mr. Perez as Assistant Attorney General for our nation's Civil Rights Division, and he was confirmed by the full U.S. Senate in a bipartisan vote of 72-22. Under his leadership, the Civil Rights Division has been reinvigorated and spearheaded landmark efforts to address hate crimes, serve Americans with disabilities, tackle employment discrimination, and protect the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans.
Amazing personal story. Excellent resume. So, then, ¿qué pasa con Tom Perez? The unfortunate truth is that partisan politics are at the heart of why some are trying to denigrate Mr. Perez's record and deny him the basic consideration of a vote on his merits.
It begs another question: how exactly is this part of the Republican strategy to win over Latino votes?
As the saying goes, it takes two to tango but it's a real problem when you won't even consider inviting us to the dance. As a community we take great pride in the prospect of Thomas Perez’ history-making confirmation to a Cabinet-level post. But we are even more proud to support an exceptionally qualified individual who has served our nation with great distinction.
It's time for Republicans to stop playing politics with Tom Perez's nomination as Secretary of Labor and heed the Latino community's call for an up and down vote in the Senate.
Jose Calderon is the President for the Hispanic Federation, one of the leading Latino organizations in the nation.