Senate confirms international aid chief
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The Senate on Monday signed off on a new administrator for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) amid a growing Syrian humanitarian crisis. 
 
Senators voted 79-7 to confirm Gayle Smith to lead the agency, seven months after President Obama nominated her for the post. 
 
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Republican Sens. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntMissouri Republicans move to block Greitens in key Senate race On The Money: Biden, Senate GOP take step toward infrastructure deal as other plans hit speed bumps Senate GOP to give Biden infrastructure counteroffer next week MORE (Mo.), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoSenate GOP to give Biden infrastructure counteroffer next week Biden says he and GOP both 'sincere about' seeking infrastructure compromise The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden expresses optimism on bipartisanship; Cheney ousted MORE (Idaho), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (Nev.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Energy: Colonial Pipeline says it has restored full service | Biden urges people not to panic about gasoline shortages | EPA rescinds Trump-era cost-benefit rule Senate panel advances Biden's deputy Interior pick Hillicon Valley: Global cybersecurity leaders say they feel unprepared for attack | Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden's FTC nominee Lina Khan | Senate panel approves bill that would invest billions in tech MORE (Utah), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP lawmaker calls for Wuhan probe to 'prevent the next pandemic' All congressional Democrats say they have been vaccinated: CNN Fauci on Rand Paul: 'I just don't understand what the problem is with him' MORE (Ky.), James Risch (Idaho) and Ben Sasse (Neb.) voted against her nomination. 
 
"We are witnessing a humanitarian crisis in Syria and across the Middle East that grows worse by the day," Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenArmy secretary nominee concerned about 'unreasonable or unhelpful demands' on National Guard DC statehood bill picks up Senate holdout US is leaving, but Afghan women to fight on for freedoms MORE (D-N.H.) said ahead of Monday's vote. "Having someone at the head of USAID is absolutely critical." 
 
Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Sanders: Netanyahu has cultivated 'racist nationalism' Tensions mount among Democrats over US-Israel policy MORE (D-Md.) added that "we couldn't have a stronger person for that position than Gayle Smith. …[She] is the right person at the right time." 
 
Despite the bipartisan consensus around her nomination, Smith was delayed over partisan fighting on unrelated issues. Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP resistance to campaign finance reforms shows disregard for US voters Bipartisanship has become a partisan weapon Former OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden MORE (R-Texas), who is running for president, said earlier this year that he would block all State Department nominations because of his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal. 
 
 
Cardin said that he had been on his way to the Senate floor to ask for unanimous consent to pass Smith's nomination when McConnell announced the vote. 
 
“I don’t think [Republicans] wanted to challenge it," he told reporters earlier this month. 
 
Shaheen added on Monday that the Senate was able to "overcome the objections of the one member who for the last seven months has been holding up her nomination." 
 
"That member was willing to put at risk the massive investment of resources that the United States has made in Afghanistan and other parts of the world just to score political points," she said. 
 
Cruz, as well as Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio wants 'UFO sightings' to be registered, taken seriously Strange bedfellows: UFOs are uniting Trump's fiercest critics, loyalists Second suspected 'Havana Syndrome' case near White House under investigation: report MORE (R-Fla.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: 'I accept the results of the election' Juan Williams: The GOP's losing bet on Trump Pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood causes headache for GOP in key S.C. race MORE (R-S.C.), who are both running for the Republican presidential nomination, and Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Sunrise Movement endorses Nina Turner in special election for Ohio House seat The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Israel-Hamas carnage worsens; Dems face SALT dilemma MORE (I-Vt.), who is running for the Democratic nomination, missed Monday's vote.
 
National Security Advisor Susan Rice said the administration was "pleased" by the Senate's decision to confirm Smith. 
 
"At a time when continued U.S. leadership in addressing humanitarian crises around the globe is a matter of the greatest urgency, it is critically important that the U.S. Agency for International Development  be led by an Administrator of the best possible qualifications," she said in a statement. "I am certain Gayle will build on her remarkable record to tackle global challenges and move us closer to a world where all people can reach their full potential."
 
Outside groups also quickly praised Smith's confirmation. 
 
U.S. Global Leadership Coalition President and CEO Liz Schrayer said that Smith "has been integral in every aspect of the numerous bipartisan initiatives that are making a difference in the development world."

Oxfam America’s president Raymond C. Offenheiser added that she is "an unequivocal champion of those facing poverty and injustice."