(WASHINGTON) — The Senate confirmed Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez as the next Secretary of Labor Thursday, making him the only Latino in President Obama’s cabinet.
Perez was nominated to the post in March, but his nomination was held up by Republicans who questioned his record working in the civil rights division at the Department of Justice.
Ahead of the vote, several Republican lawmakers took to the Senate floor to argue why Perez should not be confirmed as Labor Secretary.
“Americans of all political persuasions have a right to expect the head of such an important federal department, whether appointed by a Republican or a Democrat, would implement and follow the law in a fair and reasonable way. I do not believe they could expect as much from Mr. Perez, and that’s why I’ll be voting against him today,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
“He has demonstrated throughout his career that he’s willing to, in his words, to push the envelope to advance his ideology,” Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted to move ahead on Perez’s nomination with a vote of 60-40, just one day after Senators reached a deal to avert the use of the “nuclear option.”
Perez is the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic. He has been assistant U.S. attorney general for the Civil Rights Division since 2009 and previously served as secretary of Maryland’s Department of Labor. Former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis resigned from the post in January.
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Ruth Brown, Idaho Press-Tribune
Shelbie Harris, Idaho State Journal
Tal Kopan, CNN