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Public Statements

Perez Nomination

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. President, first, before the Senator from Tennessee leaves the floor, if he was getting ready to, I wish to commend him on his activities over the last 8 days. For the second time in a decade, we came to the brink of making a bad mistake in the Senate. But we proved--and Senator Alexander really proved through the facts, which are stubborn things--that if you study history and you read the history of the Senate, you understand there is a purpose for the cloture rule, there is a purpose for the filibuster, but there is also a purpose for being judicious in its use.

I commend the Senator on his historic history lesson, his personal experiences as being one who has gone through the process himself when he was nominated to be Secretary of Education, and I appreciate very much his leadership on the Committee of Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

I will be brief, but I would like to speak for a minute about the nomination of Thomas Perez.

The Labor Department is an important Department in the United States of America, and jobs are an important need we have in this country. We need an aggressive leader at the Department of Labor who is trying to get the Workforce Investment Act passed, trying to get people trained, trying to get wrongs righted, trying to be a leader. But what we do not need to have is one who throws up stumbling blocks to progress, stumbling blocks to jobs, and stumbling blocks to business.

Thomas Perez has a history of using disparate impact to enforce or to move toward where he wants to go in terms of the regulations he has had responsibility for in the past, namely at the Department of Justice.

Disparate impact is where you take unrelated facts, pull them together to get a pattern or practice, and then make a case against somebody for something that because of those disparate facts you think could draw you to a conclusion that they discriminated or they overcharged or they redlined or whatever it might be. Disparate impact is a very difficult thing to use. It is an even more difficult thing to defend yourself against. It would certainly be the wrong way to run the Department of Labor.

We know from Thomas Perez's experience in St. Paul, MN, with a whistleblower that his use of disparate impact caused him to work with the City of St. Paul to deny a whistleblower what he deserved in terms of his rights and the American people in terms of what they deserved in being reimbursed for the money that had been lost because of the actions the whistleblower uncovered.

It is important for us to understand that the Department of Labor is a job creator, not a job intimidator. We have had an issue in the last 4 years with the Department of Labor about the fiduciary rule--a rule that, if put in place, would cause the American saver and investor, the small saver and the small investor--it would deny them investment advice or cause them to pay so much for investment advice that the cost of that advice would be more than the yield on the investment they have. That would be the wrong thing do. I fear Thomas Perez will regenerate the fiduciary rule--which we fortunately beat back 2 years ago--and try to bring it forward again.

Going back to disparate impact, with the regulation of OSHA, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, MSHA--all the things that are done by the Department of Labor--to begin to use disparate impact as a pattern or practice to enforce mine safety laws, occupational safety laws, or any other type of laws which are very definitive in the way they should be enforced would be the wrong direction to go.

But most importantly of all, the nomination of Thomas Perez demonstrates why it is important to have cloture, why the filibuster, used judiciously and timely, can be a benefit to the Senate.

I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record a letter dated July 8, 2013, from the Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the House of Representatives, Darrell Issa.

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Mr. ISAKSON. This letter demonstrates that Mr. Perez, as of that day, had still failed to comply completely with a subpoena issued on April 10, 2013, for information to be considered.

I recognize that Mr. Issa is not a Member of the U.S. Senate, but he is the head of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. He deserves to be responded to, and we deserve to know the facts.

I attended the hearing on St. Paul, MN, and the whistleblower there, Mr. Newell, when I went to the House about 2 months ago. I know there are unanswered questions, and the American people deserve them.

Cloture should be used judiciously, but this is a time--the reason I voted no on cloture last night is because this is a time where we need all the answers. This is an appointee whose record demonstrates that he may be dangerous for the Department of Labor, not positive for the Department of Labor. I think it is important, when used judiciously, we get all the answers people need to know so that when we vote to approve or to deny an appointee, it is based on all the facts--not based on intimidation but all the facts the American people deserve.

For that reason, I will oppose the nomination today of Thomas Perez to be the Secretary of Labor for the United States of America.

I yield back my time.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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