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. 
Republican Sens. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntBiden helps broker Senate deal on unemployment benefits Top Republican: 'Outrageous' to extend National Guard deployment at Capitol Five takeaways from dramatic Capitol security hearing MORE (Mo.), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoTrump announces new tranche of endorsements Biden convenes bipartisan meeting on cancer research Senate panel unanimously advances top Biden economic nominees 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 LeeWhite House downplays surprising February jobs gain, warns US far from recovery White House open to reforming war powers amid bipartisan push Garland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks MORE (Utah), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulWhite House open to reforming war powers amid bipartisan push House approves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act Bipartisan group of senators introduces bill to rein in Biden's war powers 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 ShaheenThe eight Democrats who voted 'no' on minimum wage Justice Democrats call moderates' votes against minimum wage hike 'unconscionable' Senate rejects Sanders minimum wage hike MORE (D-N.H.) said ahead of Monday's vote. "Having someone at the head of USAID is absolutely critical." 
Despite the bipartisan consensus around her nomination, Smith was delayed over partisan fighting on unrelated issues. Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzDeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Democrats under pressure to deliver on labor's 'litmus test' bill Crenshaw pours cold water on 2024 White House bid: 'Something will emerge' 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. 
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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."