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Senate overwhelmingly confirms John Kerry as Secretary of State

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 30th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In a great show of confidence, the Senate overwhelmingly confirmed President Obama's choice of five-term Sen. John Kerry to be the new secretary of state, with a vote of 94-3. Both Republicans and Democrats have praised him as the ideal successor to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Kerry voted "present and accepted" congratulations from colleagues on the Senate floor. The roll call came just hours after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved the man who has led the panel for the past four years.

Kerry could be sworn in as early as this week. A welcoming ceremony is planned at the State Department on of Monday of next week.

The 69-year-old Kerry, the son of a diplomat, decorated Vietnam veteran and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate is replacing Clinton, who is stepping down after four years. The Massachusetts Democrat, who had pined for the job but was passed over in 2009, has served as Obama's unofficial envoy, smoothing ties with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"Sen. Kerry will need no introduction to the world's political and military leaders and will begin Day One fully conversant not only with the intricacies of U.S. foreign policy, but able to act on a multitude of international stages," Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who will succeed Kerry as committee chairman said.

A forceful proponent of climate change legislation, Kerry will also will have a voice in whether the United States moves ahead on the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, a divisive issue that has roiled environmentalists.

The three votes against Kerry were three Republicans -- Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas. Absent from the vote were Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and John Hoeven, R-N.D. "Sen. Kerry has a long history of liberal positions that are not consistent with a majority of Texans," Cornyn said in a statement.

Kerry's surefooted path to the nation's top diplomatic job stands in stark contrast to the harsher treatment for Obama's other national security nominees, such as Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary and John Brennan to be CIA director.

A former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska, Hagel faces strong opposition from some of his onetime GOP colleagues who question his support for reductions in the nuclear arsenal and cuts in defense spending.

Democrats have widely supported Hagel, and he has the announced support of at least a dozen members in advance of his confirmation hearing on Thursday. Six Republicans have said they would vote against him, with some opposing Obama's choice even before the president's announcement.

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