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 KerryBiden leads CNN poll, but Harris, Sanders on the rise Beto is the poor man's Obama — Dems can do better Joe Biden could be a great president, but can he win? MORE (D-Mass.) sailed through the chamber on a 94-3 vote, with Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeThe Hill's Morning Report - Dems look to rebuild 'blue wall' Funding caps, border wall set stage for defense budget battle Trump's claims of defeating ISIS roil Congress MORE (R-Okla.) joining Texas Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO'Rourke raised .1 million from over 128,000 donors on campaign's first day O'Rourke on Israeli-Palestinian conflict: 'We don't have the best negotiating partners on either side' O'Rourke: 'I think we can win Texas' in 2020 MORE (R) and John CornynJohn CornynSenate GOP poised to go 'nuclear' on Trump picks GOP rep to introduce constitutional amendment to limit Supreme Court seats to 9 Court-packing becomes new litmus test on left MORE (R) in casting the only “no” votes. Kerry’s approval to replace Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump mocks wind power: 'When the wind doesn't blow, just turn off the television' Trump's approval rating stable at 45 percent Kellyanne Conway: 'I think my gender helps me with the president' 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 CorkerTrump keeps tight grip on GOP Brexit and exit: A transatlantic comparison Sasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger MORE (Tenn.), the top Republican on Kerry’s Foreign Relations Committee, said on the Senate floor ahead of the vote.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison Acting Defense chief calls Graham an 'ally' after tense exchange William Barr is right man for the times 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 BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenPollster says 'it's certainly not looking good' for Trump ahead of 2020 Republican strategist predicts his 2020 Dem primary final four The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump feuds heat up 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 HagelOvernight Energy: EPA moves to raise ethanol levels in gasoline | Dems look to counter White House climate council | Zinke cleared of allegations tied to special election Democrats offer legislation to counter White House climate science council Dozens of ex-officials warn Trump against White House panel on climate change 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 MarkeyWarren, Klobuchar call on FTC to curtail use of non-compete clauses Senate Dems petition Saudi king to release dissidents, US citizen The Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison 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 WarrenWarren, Klobuchar call on FTC to curtail use of non-compete clauses Pollster says 'it's certainly not looking good' for Trump ahead of 2020 Big Tech is not the enemy, Sen. Warren 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.