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MailTribune.com
  • Senate confirms Kerry for secretary of state

    3 Republicans voted against nomination
  • WASHINGTON — The Senate overwhelmingly confirmed President Barack Obama's choice of five-term Sen. John Kerry to be secretary of state, with Republicans and Democrats praising him as the ideal successor to Hillary Clinton.
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  • WASHINGTON — The Senate overwhelmingly confirmed President Barack Obama's choice of five-term Sen. John Kerry to be secretary of state, with Republicans and Democrats praising him as the ideal successor to Hillary 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 Kerry's swearing-in, but in a letter to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Kerry says his resignation is effective at 4 p.m. Friday. The State Department 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 Obama's unofficial envoy, smoothing fractious ties with Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    "Sen. Kerry will need no introduction to the world's 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, D-N.J., who will succeed Kerry as committee chairman.
    Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the panel's 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 Iran's 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.
    Obama had nominated Kerry after Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, removed her name from consideration following criticism from Republicans over her initial comments about the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
    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, D-Wash., and John Hoeven, R-N.D.
    "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.
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