The Senate approved Sung Y. Kim of California to serve as U.S. ambassador to South Korea on Thursday, just minutes before South Korean President Lee Myung-bak planned to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) made a unanimous consent request that the new ambassador be confirmed, which was quickly approved without objection.

Kerry also asked that in the near future, the Senate take up the nomination of Heather Higginbottom to be the deputy director for the Office of Management and Budget. Kerry said there would be four hours of debate on this nomination.