WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate panel has endorsed the nomination of Justice Department official Thomas Perez to head the Labor Department despite opposition from Republicans.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 12 -10 to confirm Perez, currently the nation's top civil rights enforcer. All Republicans on the committee voted no.

The party-line vote signaled a bruising fight to come when the full Senate takes up his confirmation. He is likely to need at least 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to get past Republican objections.

Republicans have accused Perez of making decisions guided by left-wing ideology rather than the pursuit of justice. His supporters call Perez a consensus builder who is the target of politically motivated attacks.

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