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Senate approves Samantha Power to be next UN ambassador

Samantha Power has been a confidante of President Barack Obama’s since he was a senator.
Samantha Power has been a confidante of President Barack Obama’s since he was a senator.REUTERS/file

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday approved the nomination of Samantha Power as the next ambassador to the United Nations, a relatively smooth and quiet process that lacked the partisan acrimony of other recent confirmations.

Only 10 senators voted against Power. Eighty-seven supported her, including 33 Republicans.

“I don’t believe anyone can question her considerable credentials,” said Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. “Certainly no one can question her willingness to speak her mind.”

Though her past comments on the Israelis, Palestinians and “crimes” she once said the United States had committed might have indicated otherwise, her nomination was never particularly contentious. When the Foreign Relations Committee sent her name forward for a full vote in the Senate two weeks ago, only two Republicans opposed her.

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The Irish-born Power, 42, a former war correspondent, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and scholar on genocide, has been a confidante of President Barack Obama’s since he was a senator. She advised his 2008 presidential campaign but was forced out after calling Hillary Rodham Clinton, then Obama’s primary opponent, “a monster.”

She later quietly joined the Obama administration in the State Department, as a member of the National Security Council.

The Senate approved one more nomination Thursday, confirming Raymond T. Chen as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; the vote was 97-0.

In another nomination with potential political overtones, Obama said Thursday that he had selected John A. Koskinen, a widely respected manager who took charge of a bankrupt Freddie Mac, to head the Internal Revenue Service, which has been the subject of intense congressional scrutiny.

Should Koskinen win Senate confirmation — he is well regarded among lawmakers of both parties — he would become commissioner at a periodic low point for the tax-collection agency, after accusations from Republicans that it unfairly targeted conservative groups in screening their tax-exempt status.

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“John is an expert at turning around institutions in need of reform,” Obama said in a statement.