Mid-week open thread, with latest Obama cabinet news

As expected, President Barack Obama nominated Thomas Perez this week to run the U.S. Department of Labor. Media Matters posted “myths and facts” about the labor nominee here. Adam Serwer summarized Perez’s record and commented that Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa is “chief” among the nominee’s “political enemies.” Other Senate Republicans who have criticized Perez include David Vitter of Louisiana and Jeff Sessions of Alabama. John Gramlich commented in Roll Call,

Perez succeeded in blocking Republican-backed voting laws in South Carolina and Texas that his division deemed racially discriminatory. He pressed racial profiling charges against Joe Arpaio, the Republican sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., who is among the most divisive figures in the national immigration debate. His handling of a legal agreement with the city of St. Paul, Minn., in a lending discrimination case has drawn condemnation from Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, who has called it a “quid pro quo” and a “shady deal.”

Senate criticism of Perez so far has come primarily from Grassley and the Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Justice Department and is seen as one of the more-partisan panels in the chamber. Perez’s nomination to the Labor Department will not come before the Judiciary Committee, however. It will come before the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, where Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee is the top Republican.

Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri has put a procedural hold on Gina McCarthy’s nomination as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Spring is just around the corner, so Iowa wildflower Wednesday will return to Bleeding Heartland soon. Meanwhile, enjoy some gorgeous wildflower photos from southern California at La Vida Locavore.

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