Senate confirms Trump's UN ambassador

Senate confirms Trump's UN ambassador
© Greg Nash

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's nomination to serve as U.N. ambassador easily cleared the Senate on Tuesday.

The final vote was 96-4, with Democratic Sens. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsTrump got in Dem’s face over abortion at private meeting: report Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union Actor Chris Evans meets with Democratic senators before State of the Union MORE (Del.), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichOvernight Defense: Dems aim to block use of defense funds for wall | Watchdog issues new warning on Syria withdrawal | Trump wants to 'watch Iran' from Iraq Senate Dems introduce bill to block Trump from using military funds to build wall Puerto Rico statehood supporters pin hopes on House action MORE (N.M.), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallHillicon Valley: House panel takes on election security | DOJ watchdog eyes employee texts | Senate Dems urge regulators to block T-Mobile, Sprint deal | 'Romance scams' cost victims 3M in 2018 Dems urge regulators to reject T-Mobile, Sprint merger Dems wary of killing off filibuster MORE (N.M.) and Independent Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSenate Dems introduce bill to prevent Trump from using disaster funds to build wall Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up Sherrod Brown pushes for Medicare buy-in proposal in place of 'Medicare for all' MORE (Vt.) voting against her.

The Senate vote came hours after the Foreign Relations Committee approved the pick, 19-2. Coons and Udall were the only committee votes against her.

Coons questioned Haley’s foreign policy credentials, but stressed that he would work with her if confirmed by the full Senate.

"She did not convince me that she understands and embraces the foreign policy principles that the United States has championed over the past 70 years to serve effectively as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations," he said.

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He added that the position "requires a high level of expertise on international affairs, not someone who will be learning on the job."

During her confirmation hearing, Haley took a stronger stance on America's relationship with Russia than Trump did during his presidential campaign and transition period.

Democrats on the committee pointed to her break with Trump as part of the reason they decided to ultimately support her.

"I was reassured by Gov. Haley’s unequivocal opposition to President Trump’s alarming statements regarding Russian war crimes in Syria [and] her clear grasp of the importance of U.S. engagement in international institutions," Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezWilliam Barr is right man for the times This week: Trump delivers State of the Union amid wall fight BuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president MORE (D-N.J.) said in a statement explaining his committee vote.

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyHouse passes bill to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen This week: Border deal remains elusive as shutdown looms Border talks stall as another shutdown looms MORE (D-Conn.) said while he was concerned about the "vast discrepancies" between Haley and the president, he noted that he voted for her in committee "in the hope that she will stand up to President Trump whenever necessary.”

Haley appeared to share her commander in chief's skepticism about America's heavy burden of United Nations dues, using the committee hearing to question if American values are reflected by a group that recently voted to condemn Israel for building of settlements in the West Bank.

The Israel vote has drawn backlash from lawmakers in both parties.

Haley is the fourth nominee Trump has gotten confirmed by the Senate. Lawmakers are expected to wrap up their work for the week on Tuesday, with Republicans headed to Philadelphia Wednesday for an annual retreat.

Republicans blasted Democrats earlier, arguing they were holding up non-controversial nominees, including Haley and Elaine Chao, Trump's pick to lead the Transportation Department.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Poll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week MORE (R-Texas) told reporters that Democrats "need to get with the program."

“Our Democratic friends need to get over the fact that the election is over and now we have the responsibility of governing — hopefully, together," he added. "But instead so far they’ve just chosen to obstruct and foot-drag."

Republicans argue that Democrats are holding Trump's nominees to a higher standard than they did President Obama, who got seven nominees cleared on the first day of his 2009 inauguration.

The Senate is expected to take up Rex Tillerson's nomination to lead the State Department next week.

Updated: 6:19 p.m.