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Senate clears way for Labor nominee

Published: Thursday, July 18, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, July 18, 2013 10:10 a.m. CDT

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate voted by the slimmest margin Wednesday to end a filibuster against President Barack Obama’s choice to head the Labor Department, as this week’s agreement averting a poisonous partisan clash over nominations and the chamber’s rules barely survived its toughest test so far.

By 60-40, senators rejected Republican objections and voted to halt delaying tactics aimed at killing Thomas Perez’s nomination to become labor secretary.

It takes 60 votes to end filibusters. With all 52 Democrats and both Democratic-leaning independents voting to halt the delays, Republicans supplied the minimum number of votes needed to keep Perez’s selection alive – six.

In so doing, the GOP seemed to signal that while they would adhere to the agreement, their ranks bristling with unhappiness over the deal itself and against Perez in particular. In the deal announced Tuesday, top Republicans agreed to end delays against seven stalled Obama nominations and Democrats promised to drop efforts to change Senate rules to limit filibusters.

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