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 KerryBiden's second-ranking climate diplomat stepping down A presidential candidate pledge can right the wrongs of an infamous day Equilibrium/Sustainability — Dam failures cap a year of disasters MORE (D-Mass.) sailed through the chamber on a 94-3 vote, with Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense & National Security — White House raises new alarm over Russia Biden sparks confusion, cleanup on Russia-Ukraine remarks Republicans say Mayorkas failed to deliver report on evacuated Afghans MORE (R-Okla.) joining Texas Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHillicon Valley — Senate panel advances major antitrust bill Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine MORE (R) and John CornynJohn CornynSenate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Senators introduce bill aimed at protecting Ukrainian civilians Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine MORE (R) in casting the only “no” votes. Kerry’s approval to replace Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonNo Hillary — the 'Third Way' is the wrong way The dangerous erosion of Democratic Party foundations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat 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 CorkerRepublicans, ideology, and demise of the state and local tax deduction Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force MORE (Tenn.), the top Republican on Kerry’s Foreign Relations Committee, said on the Senate floor ahead of the vote.
Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezUS maintains pressure on Russia amid concerns of potential Ukraine invasion Dems block Cruz's Nord Stream 2 sanctions bill Overnight Defense & National Security — Differences remain between NATO, Russia 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 BidenUS threatens sweeping export controls against Russian industries Headaches intensify for Democrats in Florida US orders families of embassy staff in Ukraine to leave country 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 HagelInterpreter who helped rescue Biden in 2008 escapes Afghanistan Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon chiefs to Congress: Don't default Pentagon chiefs say debt default could risk national security 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 MarkeyEd MarkeyBiden comments add momentum to spending bill's climate measures Overnight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill Overnight Health Care — White House boosts mask availability 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 WarrenArizona Democratic Party executive board censures Sinema Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Biden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service 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.