Updated 2:12 p.m.
The Senate voted along party lines today to confirm Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez as the next Labor secretary, with Republicans still strongly opposed to his work with the U.S. Department of Justice and complaining he did not answer all their questions.
Democrats, however, got a vote on Perez's nomination as part of a broader deal to end Republican blocks on President Barack Obama’s executive branch nominations. Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) threatened to use the so-called "nuclear option" to strip the ability of Republicans to filibuster those nominees.
Without that brinkmanship about changing longstanding Senate rules, there was a chance Perez never would have been confirmed. The Senate voted 60-40 to move forward on Perez’s nomination on Wednesday as part of the deal, just barely making the 60-vote threshold to allow today’s confirmation vote.
The Senate voted 54-46 to confirm Perez today, with only Republicans voting against him. On the Senate floor, Reid praised Perez's work as the head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, including helping families who were victims of unfair mortgage practices. Formerly, Perez served as secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor.
Obama released a statement after the confirmation thanking the Senate for moving forward on the confirmation vote.
"Tom has lived the American dream himself, and has dedicated his career to keeping it within reach for hardworking families across the country," Obama said. "At the Department of Labor, Tom will help us continue to grow our economy, help businesses create jobs, make sure workers have the skills those jobs require, and ensure safe workplaces and economic opportunity for all."
On the other side, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said: "Tom Perez is more than just some left-wing ideologue—he’s a left-wing ideologue who appears perfectly willing to bend the rules to achieve his ends."
“And it's this 'ends justify the means' approach to his work, not simply his ideological passion, that’s so worrying to me about Mr. Perez," McConnell said.
The confirmation vote new creates a vacancy at the top of the Civil Rights Division.