Senate confirms Kerry for State on 94-3 vote

The Senate approved one of its own to become President Obama’s second secretary of State in a near-unanimous vote on Tuesday.

Sen. John KerryJohn Forbes KerryPompeo has never directly spoken to Iranian counterpart: report Trump's rejection of the Arms Trade Treaty Is based on reality Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie becomes first African to deliver Yale graduation speech MORE (D-Mass.) sailed through the chamber on a 94-3 vote, with Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeTrump defense pick expected to face tense confirmation Overnight Defense: Details on Senate's 0B defense bill | Bill rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps | Backfills money for border wall | Defense chief says more troops could head to Mideast Senate panel rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps, advances defense bill that backfills wall money MORE (R-Okla.) joining Texas Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOn The Money: Conservative blocks disaster relief bill | Trade high on agenda as Trump heads to Japan | Boeing reportedly faces SEC probe over 737 Max | Study finds CEO pay rising twice as fast as worker pay Conservative blocks House passage of disaster relief bill The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan MORE (R) and John CornynJohn CornynTrump goes scorched earth against impeachment talk The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Bipartisan House bill calls for strategy to protect 5G networks from foreign threats MORE (R) in casting the only “no” votes. Kerry’s approval to replace Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton2020 Democrats target federal ban on abortion funding Hillary Clinton slams Trump for spreading 'sexist trash' about Pelosi Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign MORE was a foregone conclusion after Republicans urged Obama to nominate him in lieu of his ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.

“I don’t know too many people who have oriented their whole life to be better suited for secretary of State,” Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerJeff Daniels blasts 'cowardice' of Senate Republicans against Trump Corker: 'I just don't' see path to challenge Trump in 2020 Ex-GOP Sen. Corker: Trump primary would be 'good thing for our country' MORE (Tenn.), the top Republican on Kerry’s Foreign Relations Committee, said on the Senate floor ahead of the vote.

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Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezEnding the Cyprus arms embargo will increase tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean We can accelerate a cure for Alzheimer's The Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison MORE (D-N.J.), who will be replacing Kerry atop the committee, echoed those sentiments.

“I can think of no one better to take on the challenges of this position,” he said. “John has already built strong relationships across the world. … He will need no introduction to the world’s political leaders.”

The Senate vote capped a whirlwind day for Kerry, whose nomination was approved by his committee in a unanimous voice vote a few hours earlier. Kerry’s colleagues on the Foreign Relations Committee, which he’s chaired since Joe BidenJoe BidenJames Carville: Biden represents 'stability' not 'generational change' Trump's misspelling of Biden's name trends on Twitter Trump says 'I have confidence' after past North Korea missile tests MORE became vice president four years ago, gave him a standing ovation and a committee resolution honoring his service as chairman.

The resolution “commends the long and distinguished service of John F. Kerry, whose exceptional skill as a lawmaker is matched only by his commitment to an America that is, in President John F. Kennedy’s phrase, not ‘first but, first when, first if, but first period’; and extends its best wishes for his continuing service to the Nation.”

The rare show of bipartisan support will not extend to the rest of Obama’s second-term national-security picks, however. Six Republicans — including the three who voted against Kerry — have vowed to oppose former Sen. Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelSwalwell says he will convene a bipartisan 'blended cabinet' if elected president Overnight Energy: John Kerry hits Trump over climate change at hearing | Defends Ocasio-Cortez from GOP attacks | Dems grill EPA chief over auto emissions rollback plan For planet and country: National security's climate moment MORE (R-Neb.) for secretary of Defense. Members of both parties have raised questions regarding the choice of John Brennan to take over the CIA because of concerns over his record on drone strikes as Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser.

Tuesday’s vote opens up the Kerry seat for Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, to appoint an interim senator on Wednesday. 

Patrick’s former chief of staff, William “Mo” Cowan, and Victoria Kennedy, widow of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), are considered front-runners for the pick.

Patrick has set the special-election primary date for April 30, and the general election for June 25.

Rep. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Senate passes anti-robocall bill The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi fires back in feud with Trump MORE (D) is running for the seat and Rep. Stephen Lynch (D) is widely rumored to be considering a bid, setting Democrats up for an unwanted primary race. And while no Republican has yet announced his or her intention to run for the seat, former Sen. Scott Brown is also expected to try to return to the Senate after losing to Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump defense pick expected to face tense confirmation 2020 Democrats target federal ban on abortion funding Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign MORE (D) in November.

Kerry, who turns 70 this year, was first elected to the Senate in 1985 after coming to national attention for protesting the Vietnam War as a decorated veteran and serving as a district attorney and lieutenant governor in Massachusetts. He was the Democratic nominee for president in 2004, ultimately losing to George W. Bush.

Kerry is the son of a U.S. diplomat and has long been eyeing the secretary of State job. He was not Obama’s first choice for the post but was nominated after Rice withdrew from consideration amid withering Republican criticism for having initially linked the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, to a protest gone awry. Her comments were based on talking points provided by the intelligence community.

Kerry will deliver his farewell address to the Senate on Wednesday. He’s expected to be sworn in at the State Department on Friday, Hillary Clinton’s last day on the job, and begin his tenure Monday.

Ramsey Cox and Alexandra Jaffe contributed to this report.

This story was posted at 4:32 p.m. and updated at 7:45 p.m.