John Kerry confirmed as next Secretary of State
Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry was confirmed by the Senate today to serve as the next Secretary of State.
The Senate overwhelmingly approved Kerry’s nomination with a 94 to 3 vote. The State Department is expected to hold a welcoming ceremony for Kerry on Monday.
Kerry, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will succeed Hillary Clinton, who has served as the nation’s top diplomat for the past 4 years, traveling more than a million miles to 112 countries during her tenure. As Secretary of State, Kerry will lead a staff of more than 70,000 State Department and USAID personnel in 270 posts around the world.
During his Senate confirmation hearing, Kerry praised Clinton’s “superb” service at the State Department.
“Secretary Clinton particularly has served above and beyond the call of duty,” said Kerry. “She has set a very high mark for her stewardship of the State Department and her commitment to country…I will do everything in my power, summon every energy and all of my focus to build on her record and the President’s vision.”
The decorated Vietnam War veteran and long-time Senator is taking over the helms at the State Department just as the U.S. is grappling with a host of new challenges posed by the Arab revolutions in the Middle East, the spread of arms and Islamist extremism in the African continent, China’s growing economic and military prowess in Asia-Pacific, and development of nuclear weapons by hostile nations such as Iran and North Korea.
Furthermore, the State Department is assuming a greater role in ensuring the stability of the governments in Iraq and Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal of combat troops.
“In a sense, John’s entire life has prepared him for this role,” said President Barack Obama when he announced Kerry’s nomination in late December. “Having served with valor in Vietnam, he understands that we have a responsibility to use American power wisely, especially our military power…As we turn the page on a decade of war, [Kerry] understands that we’ve got to harness all elements of American power and ensure that they’re working together — diplomatic and development, economic and political, military and intelligence — as well as the power of our values which inspire so many people around the world.”
Kerry urged his Senate colleagues to “work together to advance America’s security interests in a complicated and ever more dangerous world.”
“In my trips to crisis areas, war zones and refugee camps in some of the poorest countries on earth, I have been reminded of the importance of the work that our State Department does to protect and advance America’s interests and do the job of diplomacy in a dangerous world,” said Kerry. “The road ahead is tough. But I believe just as deeply that global leadership is a strategic imperative for America, it is not a favor we do for other countries. It amplifies our voice, it extends our reach. It is the key to jobs, the fulcrum of our influence, and it matters – it really matters to the daily lives of Americans.”
Three Republican Senators – Ted Cruz (Texas), John Cornyn (Texas), and James Inhofe (Oklahoma) – opposed Kerry’s confirmation.
In a written statement, Cruz expressed concerns about Kerry’s positions on national security issues.
“I was compelled to vote no on Senator Kerry’s nomination because of his longstanding less-than-vigorous defense of U.S. national security issues and, in particular, his long record of supporting treaties and international tribunals that have undermined U.S. sovereignty,” Cruz explained.
- Foreign.Senate.gov: Sen. John Kerry’s opening statement at nomination hearing to be U.S. Secretary of State
- Foreign.Senate.gov: Senate Foreign Relations Committee approves nomination of John Kerry for Secretary of State
- Cruz.Senate.gov: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz statement on Kerry vote
- WhiteHouse.gov: Remarks by the President on nomination of Senator John Kerry as Secretary of State
- Senate.gov: Vote #5 on the confirmation of John F. Kerry to be Secretary of State on Jan. 29, 2013