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Walsh one step away from labor secretary after Senate votes to end debate on his nomination; confirmation expected Monday

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh gives updates relating to COVID-19 during a press conference at Boston City Hall on March 1.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh gives updates relating to COVID-19 during a press conference at Boston City Hall on March 1.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh is one step away from becoming labor secretary after the Senate on Thursday voted to end debate on his nomination, setting up a vote to confirm him on Monday.

The 68-30 vote came as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer moved to finish the confirmation of President Biden’s Cabinet secretary nominees, a process that has proceeded slower than in previous administrations because Democrats did not gain their slim control of the chamber until late in January and Republicans have used procedural moves to stall votes. Schumer has had to file cloture on many of the nominations, including Walsh’s, to formally cut off debate and allow confirmation votes.

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Before the Walsh cloture vote, the Senate voted 50-49 to confirm Xavier Becerra as health and human services secretary. That leaves Walsh as the only Biden Cabinet secretary nominee who has not been confirmed. His confirmation vote is set for 5:30 p.m. Monday.

“Early next week, after we confirm him, the Senate will have confirmed every available Cabinet secretary—and many more Cabinet-level appointments besides,” Schumer said Thursday morning before the vote. “That’s excellent progress, and again, I want to thank my colleagues in the Senate, on both sides of the aisle, for their votes and support of these fine nominees.”

Once confirmed, Walsh will step down as mayor and be replaced by Boston City Council president Kim Janey. She will be acting mayor until the November election. She will be the first Black person and first woman to hold the city’s top job.

Walsh is expected to receive more Republican support for his confirmation than Becerra in the 50-50 Senate.

Walsh’s nomination was approved 18-4 by the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. Becerra, who Republicans have criticized because of his aggressive defense of the Affordable Care Act as California attorney general and lack of healthcare experience, received no GOP votes from the Senate Finance Committee and the cloture motion to end debate on the nomination was 50-49. Maine Senator Susan Collins was the only Republican to vote for Becerra’s confirmation and to end debate on his nomination.

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Nineteen Republicans voted to end debate on Walsh’s nomination on Thursday.

Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington who chairs the HELP Committee, praised Walsh for what she called his “unwavering commitment to put workers first” and noted he’d be the first former union leader in decades to serve as labor secretary.

“Workers who are the backbone of our economy have been pushed to the brink,” Murray said on the Senate floor shortly before the vote. “They need us to confirm mayor Marty Walsh so we have a secretary of labor who will take quick action to address the urgent challenges we face and be a valuable partner in helping our economy come back stronger and fairer for all workers.”



Jim Puzzanghera can be reached at jim.puzzanghera@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter: @JimPuzzanghera.