POLITICS

Senate Confirms Julián Castro As Housing Secretary - Third Hispanic In Current Cabinet

This June 17, 2014 file photo shows Housing and Urban Development Secretary nominee, San Antonio, Texas Mayor Julian Castro testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Senate has easily confirmed San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Wednesdays 71-26 vote makes the 39-year-old Castro one of the highest-ranking Hispanics in government.

This June 17, 2014 file photo shows Housing and Urban Development Secretary nominee, San Antonio, Texas Mayor Julian Castro testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Senate has easily confirmed San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Wednesdays 71-26 vote makes the 39-year-old Castro one of the highest-ranking Hispanics in government.  (AP)

The Senate easily confirmed San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro on Wednesday to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, boosting the national profile of a Democrat with a compelling biography who's considered a vice presidential contender in 2016.

The 71-26 vote makes the 39-year-old Castro one of the government's highest-ranking Hispanics, a growing group of voters who lean solidly Democratic. His ascension comes two years after he got his first broad national exposure when President Barack Obama picked him to deliver the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

"Julián has lived the American Dream in his own life," President Obama said in a statement released after the confirmation. "I’m confident he will help Americans across our country seize their own piece of that dream for themselves and their children."

Castro grew up in a working-class San Antonio neighborhood, the Mexican-American son of a single mother who was a Latino rights activist.

He has a law degree from Harvard and is a three-term mayor of Texas' second largest city. His options for rising in Texas politics were viewed as limited in a Republican-dominated Texas, where no Democrat has triumphed in a statewide contest in two decades.

Castro will replace Shaun Donovan as housing secretary. Obama has picked Donovan to become White House budget chief.

Castro's twin brother, Joaquin, is a congressman who represents much of the San Antonio area.

He released a statement congratulating his brother, adding, "I’m confident Julián will work tirelessly in his new role making responsible home ownership more accessible, combating homelessness, and strengthening the rise of cities across our country."

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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