Kerry Confirmed as Secretary of State
Byline: Associated Press
WASHINGTON The Senate overwhelmingly confirmed President Barack Obamas choice of five-term Sen. John Kerry to be secretary of state, with Republicans and Democrats praising him as the ideal successor to Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The vote Tuesday was 94-3. One senator Kerry voted present and accepted congratulations from colleagues on the Senate floor. The roll call came just hours after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved the man who has led the panel for the past four years.
No date has been set for Kerrys swearing-in, but in a letter to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Kerry says his resignation is effective at 4 p.m. Friday. The State Departments plans a welcoming ceremony for Kerry on Monday.
Obama tapped Kerry, 69, the son of a diplomat, decorated Vietnam veteran and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, to succeed Clinton, who is stepping down after four years. The Massachusetts Democrat, who had pined for the job but was passed over in 2009, has served as Obamas unofficial envoy, smoothing fractious ties with Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"Sen. Kerry will need no introduction to the worlds political and military leaders and will begin Day One fully conversant not only with the intricacies of U.S. foreign policy, but able to act on a multitude of international stages," said Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who will succeed Kerry as committee chairman.
Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the panels top Republican, called Kerry "a realist" who will deal with unrest in Egypt, civil war in Syria, the threat of al-Qaida-linked groups in Africa and Irans pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Kerry, a forceful proponent of climate change legislation, also will have a say in whether the United States moves ahead on the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, a divisive issue that has roiled environmentalists.
Voting against Kerry were three Republicans Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas. Absent from the vote were Sens. Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat, and John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican.
"Sen. Kerry has a long history of liberal positions that are not consistent with a majority of Texans," Cornyn said in a statement. The senator is up for re-election next year and could face a Tea Party challenge.
Kerrys smooth path to the top diplomatic job stands in stark contrast to the harsher treatment for Obamas other national security nominees Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary and John Brennan to be CIA director.
Hagel, the former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska, faces strong opposition from some of his onetime GOP colleagues who question his support for reductions in the nuclear arsenal and cuts in defense spending. Lawmakers also have questioned whether he is sufficiently supportive of Israel and strongly opposed to any outreach to Iran.
Brennan faces questions from the GOP about White House leaks of classified information and from Democrats about the administrations use of drones.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., threatened to block the nomination of both men until he gets more answers from the Obama administration about the assault on the U. …