The AFL-CIO says Keith Ellison "meets the high standard" set by its seven million members. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation, threw its support behind Rep. Keith Ellison’s bid to lead the Democratic National Committee, saying the liberal congressman “meets the high standard” set by its seven million members.

“He is a proven leader who will focus on year-round grassroots organizing to deliver for working families across America. Under his leadership, the Democratic Party will embody the values that our members stand for every day,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Thursday about the Minnesota Democrat.

The announcement is a considerable boost for Ellison, whose bid has become controversial. Last week, the Anti-Defamation League said it opposed him, citing comments in past speeches critical of Israel. In a 2010 speech, Ellison, who is Muslim, said, “The United States foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad through a country of 7 million people.” The ADL called the comments “both deeply disturbing and disqualifying.”

The AFL-CIO’s announcement did not address that controversy. It included a statement from Ellison that he was “proud to be on their side and I am even prouder that the AFL-CIO is on mine. Workers will be central to the Democratic Party.”

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