Kerry gets overwhelming Senate backing to lead State Department
The Senate overwhelmingly approved Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) as the next secretary of state Tuesday afternoon, with three Republican “no” votes.
The vote was 94 to 3, clearing the way for Kerry to formally take over from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday.
He assumes the post amid a civil war in Syria that has killed an estimated 60,000 people, stalled nuclear negotiations with Iran and the spread of militancy across North Africa. U.S. relations with Russia are at a low point, the United States is struggling to manage a changing relationship with a rising China and the prospects for new Middle East peace efforts appear dim.
Three Republicans voted against Kerry — Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, both of Texas, and Sen. James Inhofe (Okla).
Inhofe said voting against Kerry, whom he called a “good friend,” was a no-brainer.
“We joke around a lot,” the Republican lawmaker said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. “But I told him I never agreed with him on anything, going all the way back to the Sandinistas.”
Inhofe said that he was concerned in particular that Kerry appears to make global warming a centerpiece issue and that Kerry has been too deferential to global organizations such as the United Nations.
Kerry, 69, was the failed 2004 Democratic candidate for president, but the State Department job represents a long-held ambition for the foreign policy expert. He will become the 68th top U.S. diplomat and the first white man to hold the post since Warren Christopher in 1997.