The U.S. Senate has voted 94 to 3 to confirm one of its own, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, as secretary of state. Kerry will step down from the Senate to succeed Hillary Clinton as America’s top diplomat and President Barack Obama’s chief envoy to the world.
Kerry’s confirmation as secretary of state was never in doubt. Senators of both parties lauded him ahead of Tuesday’s vote. Democrat Ben Cardin noted Kerry’s long tenure on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
“I do not think there has been a member of this body that has spent more time, gone to more places, met with more people in order to represent our nation on the international stage,” he said.
Republican Senator Bob Corker echoed the sentiment. “I do not know of anybody who has lived a life that has been more oriented toward ultimately being secretary of state than John Kerry,” he said.
Senators noted that Kerry has immersed himself in global affairs throughout his adult life. As a young man, he fought in the Vietnam War and later decried the barbarity he had witnessed in combat. As a lawmaker, Kerry traveled the world for more than two decades.
Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, who is assuming Kerry’s former position as Foreign Relations Committee chairman, listed his many accomplishments.
“Advocating for programs that help secure nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons stockpiles and materials so they do not fall into the hands of hostile states and terrorists, leading the Senate to provide its advice and consent for ratification of the New Start treaty with Russia. During the Arab Spring, Senator Kerry supported a no-fly zone over Libya, which helped to save thousands of lives from being massacred. And he was a voice of courage and conscience in calling for [former] president Hosni Mubarak to step aside, and began an orderly and peaceful transition to a democratic political system in Egypt,” he said.
Analysts say Kerry’s beliefs on America’s role in the world and the proper use of U.S. military might are in line with those of President Obama.
Kerry takes over from Hillary Clinton, whose was secretary of state throughout Obama’s first term as president.
Democratic Senator Richard Durbin paid tribute to Clinton’s accomplishments Tuesday, saying she helped strengthen U.S. security and improved the lives of women and children around the world.
Later this week, the Senate will begin formal consideration of another Obama Cabinet pick: former Republican senator Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense.