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 BluntEx-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity GOP group targets McConnell over election security bills in new ad Budget deal sparks scramble to prevent shutdown MORE (Mo.), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoA US-UK free trade agreement can hold the Kremlin to account Oversight Republicans demand answers on Capital One data breach On The Money: Fed cuts rates for first time since financial crisis | Trump rips Fed after chief casts doubt on future cuts | Stocks slide | Senate kicks budget vote amid scramble for GOP support MORE (Idaho), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary MORE (Nev.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeMcConnell, allies lean into Twitter, media 'war' Conservatives buck Trump over worries of 'socialist' drug pricing Criminal justice reform should extend to student financial aid MORE (Utah), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGraham promises ObamaCare repeal if Trump, Republicans win in 2020 Conservatives buck Trump over worries of 'socialist' drug pricing Rand Paul to 'limit' August activities due to health 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 ShaheenSunday shows - Recession fears dominate Lewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' Lewandowski says he's 'happy' to testify before House panel 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 Cruz3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters Democrats keen to take on Cornyn despite formidable challenges 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 RubioTrump moves forward with F-16 sale to Taiwan opposed by China The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move MORE (R-Fla.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid Graham warns Trump on Taliban deal in Afghanistan: Learn from 'Obama's mistakes' Appropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid MORE (R-S.C.), who are both running for the Republican presidential nomination, and Bernie SandersBernie SandersTop Sanders adviser: Warren isn't competing for 'same pool of voters' Eight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall Top aide Jeff Weaver lays out Sanders's path to victory 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."