Senate confirms Trump's UN ambassador

Senate confirms Trump's UN ambassador
© Greg Nash

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's nomination to serve as U.N. ambassador easily cleared the Senate on Tuesday.

The final vote was 96-4, with Democratic Sens. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsOvernight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps Water has experienced a decade of bipartisan success Protecting American innovation MORE (Del.), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichSenate Intel releases summary of election security report Revisiting America’s torture legacy Dems release interactive maps to make case against GOP tax law MORE (N.M.), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOvernight Energy: Dem says EPA isn't cooperating on 'privacy booth' probe | Tribe, Zinke split over border wall | Greens tout support for renewables in swing states Overnight Regulation: Facebook faces new crisis over Cambridge Analytica data | Whistleblower gets record SEC payout | Self-driving Uber car kills pedestrian | Trump bans trading in Venezuelan cryptocurrency Senate Dem: Pruitt isn’t cooperating with ‘privacy booth’ probe MORE (N.M.) and Independent Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersAnti-abortion Dem wins primary fight Lipinski holds slim lead in tough Illinois primary fight Overnight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps MORE (Vt.) voting against her.

The Senate vote came hours after the Foreign Relations Committee approved the pick, 19-2. Coons and Udall were the only committee votes against her.

Coons questioned Haley’s foreign policy credentials, but stressed that he would work with her if confirmed by the full Senate.

"She did not convince me that she understands and embraces the foreign policy principles that the United States has championed over the past 70 years to serve effectively as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations," he said.

He added that the position "requires a high level of expertise on international affairs, not someone who will be learning on the job."

During her confirmation hearing, Haley took a stronger stance on America's relationship with Russia than Trump did during his presidential campaign and transition period.

Democrats on the committee pointed to her break with Trump as part of the reason they decided to ultimately support her.

"I was reassured by Gov. Haley’s unequivocal opposition to President Trump’s alarming statements regarding Russian war crimes in Syria [and] her clear grasp of the importance of U.S. engagement in international institutions," Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezPoll: Menendez has 17-point lead over GOP challenger Russian attacks on America require bipartisan response from Congress Justice Dept intends to re-try Menendez in corruption case MORE (D-N.J.) said in a statement explaining his committee vote.

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyOvernight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps Senate sides with Trump on providing Saudi military support Senate, Trump clash over Saudi Arabia MORE (D-Conn.) said while he was concerned about the "vast discrepancies" between Haley and the president, he noted that he voted for her in committee "in the hope that she will stand up to President Trump whenever necessary.”

Haley appeared to share her commander in chief's skepticism about America's heavy burden of United Nations dues, using the committee hearing to question if American values are reflected by a group that recently voted to condemn Israel for building of settlements in the West Bank.

The Israel vote has drawn backlash from lawmakers in both parties.

Haley is the fourth nominee Trump has gotten confirmed by the Senate. Lawmakers are expected to wrap up their work for the week on Tuesday, with Republicans headed to Philadelphia Wednesday for an annual retreat.

Republicans blasted Democrats earlier, arguing they were holding up non-controversial nominees, including Haley and Elaine Chao, Trump's pick to lead the Transportation Department.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynWhite House officials expect short-term funding bill to avert shutdown Spending bill delay raises risk of partial government shutdown support GOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone MORE (R-Texas) told reporters that Democrats "need to get with the program."

“Our Democratic friends need to get over the fact that the election is over and now we have the responsibility of governing — hopefully, together," he added. "But instead so far they’ve just chosen to obstruct and foot-drag."

Republicans argue that Democrats are holding Trump's nominees to a higher standard than they did President Obama, who got seven nominees cleared on the first day of his 2009 inauguration.

The Senate is expected to take up Rex Tillerson's nomination to lead the State Department next week.

Updated: 6:19 p.m.