The Senate confirmed Thomas Perez as the next secretary of labor on Thursday in a 54-46 vote that divided the body roughly down the middle. 

Republicans had expressed opposition to Perez, accusing him of bending laws in order to advance his more liberal agenda.

President Barack Obama issued the following statement welcoming Perez to the administration in his new capacity:

"I welcome today's confirmation of Tom Perez to serve as Secretary of Labor.  Tom has lived the American dream himself, and has dedicated his career to keeping it within reach for hardworking families across the country.  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.

I want to thank the Senate once again for agreeing to move forward on Tom and the other nominees who have waited far too long for the yes-or-no votes they deserve."