WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed President Obama’s nomination of Senator John F. Kerry to be secretary of state on Tuesday, handing the Massachusetts Democrat a redemptive career victory that ensconces him in an elite echelon of national leadership nine years after his failed bid for the presidency.
The 94-to-3 vote was the final hurdle for Kerry, whose nomination roared through the Senate after Obama’s first choice of UN Ambassador Susan Rice encountered stiff GOP opposition and never got off the ground.
Kerry met virtually no resistance, as his colleagues on both sides of the aisle lauded his 28 years of service in the Senate and his deep experience in international affairs, most recently as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He is expected to give a farewell speech in the Senate on Wednesday.
Little suspense hung over the proceedings after Kerry cruised through a confirmation hearing last week before the Foreign Relations Committee. The accolades and ceremony began Tuesday morning when the committee — in just 10 minutes with almost no discussion — approved Kerry’s nomination, setting up the late afternoon vote by the full Senate. Even harsh administration critics such as Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky joined the unanimous voice vote in committee.
In a statement, Obama said he was pleased that Kerry was confirmed with “overwhelming bipartisan support. From his decorated service in Vietnam to his decades in the Senate as a champion of American global leadership, John’s distinguished career has prepared him to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead.”
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