Senate confirms Kelly Craft as UN ambassador

Senate confirms Kelly Craft as UN ambassador
© Aaron Schwartz

The Senate has approved Kelly Craft to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, giving President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump hails Arizona Senate for audit at Phoenix rally, slams governor Arkansas governor says it's 'disappointing' vaccinations have become 'political' Watch live: Trump attends rally in Phoenix MORE a Senate-confirmed envoy to the international body for the first time since December.

The Senate voted 56-34 on Wednesday to confirm Craft, who has served as U.S. ambassador to Canada since August 2017. She will fill a role that has been occupied in an acting capacity by Jonathan Cohen since Nikki HaleyNikki HaleyNoem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event Poll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis Trump is a complication for Republican hopes in Virginia MORE resigned in December.

Democratic Sens. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanPoll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat  Bipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor Democrat calls on Olympics to rectify situation after Paralympian drops out of games MORE (N.H.), Joe ManchinJoe ManchinWhy Biden's Interior Department isn't shutting down oil and gas Overnight Energy: Senate panel advances controversial public lands nominee | Nevada Democrat introduces bill requiring feds to develop fire management plan | NJ requiring public water systems to replace lead pipes in 10 years Transit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal MORE (W.Va.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyOvernight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia US launches second Somalia strike in week On The Money: Senate braces for nasty debt ceiling fight | Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan deal | Housing prices hit new high in June MORE (Conn.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenEquilibrium/ Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — Clean power repurposes dirty power CIA watchdog to review handling of 'Havana syndrome' cases Frustration builds as infrastructure talks drag MORE (N.H.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) voted in favor of Craft.

Most Democrats opposed Craft over concerns about her past remarks on climate change, as well as accusations that she was absent from her post in Canada too often.

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“First and foremost, she lacks the experience necessary to stand up for American values and promote our national security on the global stage,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezLobbying world This week: Congress starts summer sprint The Innovation and Competition Act is progressive policy MORE (D-N.J.) said. “Second, during her brief diplomatic tenure in Canada, she posted so many absences that I cannot describe it as anything less than a dereliction of duty.”

Hours before Wednesday’s vote, Menendez released a report that found Craft spent more than half of her time as the U.S. ambassador to Canada outside of the country. The findings had been circulated earlier among Foreign Relations Committee staff.

During her confirmation hearing, Craft defended her time away from Ottawa as being spent largely to advance trade negotiations in the field.

Craft, the wife of a coal executive, had also come under fire for saying in a 2017 interview that “there are scientists on both sides that are accurate” about the existence of climate change, despite scientific consensus that it does.

During her confirmation hearing, Craft pledged to recuse herself from matters involving coal and said humans have “contributed” to climate change.

“Climate change needs to be addressed, as it poses real risks to our planet. Human behavior has contributed to the changing climate,” Craft said. “Let there be no doubt: I will take this matter seriously, and if confirmed, I will be an advocate for all countries to do their part in addressing climate change.

“This does not mean, in my view, that the United States should imperil American jobs — or our economy as a whole — by assuming an outsized burden on behalf of the rest of the world,” she continued. “However, it does mean that we should promote the creativity and innovation that have made the United States a leader in tackling the challenges of our environment — all while safeguarding our nation’s economic well-being.”

Republicans, meanwhile, have lined up behind Craft.

“During her tenure as ambassador to Canada, America's relationship with our northern neighbor was tested,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse Democrats grow frustrated as they feel ignored by Senate Democrats question GOP shift on vaccines Has Trump beaten the system? MORE (R-Ky.) said Wednesday. McConnell reportedly recommended Craft, a fellow Kentuckian and prominent Republican donor, for the job.

“A number of challenging policy hurdles threatened to trip up progress on several important issues, including trade negotiations,” McConnell continued, “but by all accounts, Ambassador Craft's involvement led to greater cooperation.”

Updated at 6:22 p.m.