Thomas Perez may be confirmed by the end of this week. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

Senate votes to end debate on Tom Perez nomination, clearing path to confirmation

The Senate narrowly voted on Wednesday afternoon to end the debate on the nomination of Tomas Perez, President Obama‘s nominee for Labor Secretary. The confirmation is expected for Thursday.

Before the 60-40 vote, Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio stepped up his criticism of Perez. At the same time, Latino civil rights organizations and Democrats had been increasingly denouncing the Senate’s failure to confirm President Obama’s only Latino Cabinet member.

Rubio, in a heated speech on the Senate floor, criticized Perez for failing to comply with a House subpoena for work-related emails sent through his private email account.

“We are now being asked to confirm someone…who has an open contempt of a congressional subpoena. This is wrong. How can we possibly move forward on a nominee- I don’t care if a deal has been cut,” Rubio said. “If there was ever an instance that someone’s nomination should move forward, this is it.”

Rubio also voiced his concerns in a series of tweets all aimed at Perez.

Rubio’s vocal opposition was in marked contrast to the push by many Latino lawmakers and advocacy groups to press the Senate on Perez’ confirmation.  The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) sent a letter to the Senate highlighting Perez’s accomplishments.

“Tom Perez is a dedicated public servant and has spent his entire career fighting for hardworking middle class families, the underprivileged, and the disabled,” Rep. Linda Sanchez, Second Chair of the CHC, said in a statement. “He is exactly who we need to lead the Department of Labor to take on long-term unemployment, immigration and the minimum wage.”

Latino groups like the Hispanic Federation, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, AFL-CIO Latino, and Latino Justice PRLDEF all back the Labor Secretary nominee and have praised his civil rights work with the Justice Department. The groups sought to mobilize Americans to pressure their Senators by tweeting out facts about Perez’s work at the DOJ with the hashtag #ConfirmTom.

RELATED: Obama nominates Thomas Perez for Labor Secretary, calling him an advocate for working families 

Mexican-American political scientist Allert Brown-Gort says Rubio’s opposition to Perez may be a move to boost his conservative credentials following his support for comprehensive immigration reform.

“I think what you’ve got to think about is what has happened to immigration reform. Rubio has tried to subsume that and go back to his base a little bit,” Brown-Gort says. “The fact that he emerged as the leader in the abortion debate shows that one of the things he’s trying to do is refurbish his tea party cred. Perez’s background as labor lawyer so on that may be what is motivating him.”

RELATED: Labor nominee Thomas Perez grilled by GOP senators, says he will work with business, labor to create jobs

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