Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding upcoming votes to confirm Douglas Parker to serve as an assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA and Myrna Pérez to serve as a Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
The Senate begins this week with votes to confirm two more highly qualified Biden nominees—one to serve in his Administration, and another to serve on the federal bench.
First, we will vote to confirm Mr. Douglas Parker to serve as an assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA. A veteran of the Labor Department from the Obama Administration, Mr. Parker would be the first Senate-confirmed OSHA head since the Obama presidency. He has a proven track record of protecting everyday Americans in the workplace—more important now than ever before—and I look forward to his confirmation later today. The fact that the previous administration left OSHA empty for 4 years shows how little it cared about worker safety and protecting our workers, as many of them often do difficult jobs.
Second, the Senate will also proceed to the confirmation of a truly outstanding judicial nominee— Myrna Pérez, to serve as a Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit, which includes my home state of New York.
It’s a good day for the Second Circuit and for the entire federal judiciary. If confirmed Myrna Pérez would be a remarkable, remarkable addition to the bench. She’d be the only Hispanic juror to sit on the Second Circuit, and the first since Justice Sonya Sotomayor. And just as I was proud to support Justice Sotomayor’s nomination – I even suggested her name for the Supreme Court to President Obama, a fact I’m proud of – I’m also today proud to champion Myrna’s elevation to the bench.
Myrna’s life is the embodiment of the American dream. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, she grew up in San Antonio Texas, where her father was an Army veteran who worked as a consultant with Bexar County, while her mother worked in the post office.
As Myrna herself will tell you, growing up in a family of immigrants often meant breaking through linguistic, cultural, and racial barriers. And of all places, perhaps nowhere else did these barriers leave an important imprint on Myrna than when her aunt took her to the polls on Election Day. It was there where Myrna realized how an election system built from byzantine rules potentially shut out countless citizens from the political process. This experience instilled in Myrna a thirst for making our democracy work for all—and that’s become her life’s work.
After graduating from Yale, Harvard, and Columbia, Myrna eventually joined the Brennan Center for Justice, becoming the director of its Voting Rights and Election Program. Over the course of her career Myrna has become one of the nation’s top voting rights and election lawyers, playing a key role in making sure Americans could vote safely in the 2020 election. She also has fought unlawful purges of voter rolls, spoken out against long wait times at polling locations in diverse neighborhoods, and has played major roles preparing six amicus briefs before the Supreme Court, including one for the Shelby case in 2013.
But Myrna’s qualifications are not limited to her experience as a voting rights litigator. She is also a brilliant attorney with experience in fair housing law, disability rights, and employment discrimination. In the words of one former colleague, her skills as a lawyer are simply “off the charts.”
The cupboards of the federal judiciary have long been filled with attorneys who’ve taken the traditional route on their way to the bench—a big law firm, corporate experience, or prosecutorial experience. Many of those jurists have done commendably on the bench and I’ve been proud to support many of them over the years.
But Myrna Pérez represents something different, something wonderfully different: a sorely-needed boost in both the personal and professional diversity of the federal bench.
Especially now, we need more election lawyers in black robes. We need more federal defenders in black robes. We need more immigrants and civil rights lawyers and diverse candidates assuming positions on the bench.
We need, in other words, for our courts to reflect the rich mosaic that is the American people. And with Myrna Pérez’s nomination I am glad we are taking a step closer towards that goal, and I hope she is confirmed later today.
Now, in addition to Myrna Pérez’s nomination, I also filed cloture on five additional judicial nominations, which we will begin working on tomorrow.
It is my hope that we can work to process these nominees through the chamber quickly. They are all outstanding individuals with proven records of fidelity to the rule of law.
As we keep making progress on many pressing issues to help the American people, Senate Democrats will also continue working swiftly to fill judicial vacancies with qualified, mainstream jurists who, again, add to the bench’s diversity, both demographic and occupational.
And all year long, that’s precisely what we’ve done. This year the Senate has already confirmed the first Native American and Muslim-Americans to the bench, to the federal bench, as well as multiple civil rights attorneys, public defenders, voting rights experts and more.
This is how we work to strengthen not only the diversity in our judiciary, but the public’s trust that it truly represents all Americans.