Senate

Senate confirms deputy secretary of State

The Senate confirmed Antony Blinken to be deputy secretary of State in a 55-38 vote on Tuesday.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Blinken’s confirmation endangers U.S. military service members.

“[Blinken] is not only unqualified but, in my view, one of the worst selections of a very bad lot that this president has chosen,” McCain said. “He has been part of a failed foreign policy that has made America less safe.”

{mosads}Blinken has served as a foreign policy adviser in the White House and the Senate to Vice President Joe Biden, who McCain said has been wrong on nearly all of his foreign policy predictions, particularly in the Middle East.

McCain chided Blinken for making “abysmally ignorant” comments about conditions in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) defended Blinken, saying his nomination comes at a critical time for the United States’ global affairs and that he is “more than qualified.”

“The list of challenges is long,” Menendez said. “If Mr. Blinken is not qualified than the bar set by my colleagues is too high for any human to reach.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a potential White House contender in 2016, has also objected to the nominee, arguing Blinken refused to answer questions about the future of U.S. relations with Cuba.

“I personally have an objection to Tony Blinken’s nomination. He refused to answer my questions on Cuba policy in a straightforward way,” Rubio said. “I understand that at the end of the day that, if they’re willing to stay for a long period of time, they’re going to get him [confirmed], but I intend to force them to use all of that time.”

Blinken is one of 23 nominations Senate Democrats want to confirm before adjourning for the year. They want to advance as many nominees with GOP objections before Republicans take control of the Senate next year.

Senate Democrats are hoping now that the most controversial nominees are out of the way, Republicans will agree to expedite votes on the remaining 18 nominations. 

In addition to clearing all the nominations, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he wants to complete work on a package of tax breaks and potentially the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, which provides businesses a government backstop in the event of a terrorist attack.

— Alex Bolton contributed to this article.

Tags Antony Blinken Bob Menendez John McCain Marco Rubio State Department

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