The U.S. Senate officially confirmed Sen. John Kerry as the new secretary of state Tuesday. Earlier in the day, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Kerry’s nomination with a unanimous vote. Kerry had served as the chair of the committee since 2009. The Massachusetts Democrat’s confirmation was expected to go smoothly, having earned praise from Republicans as well as his own party.
“I couldn’t be more humbled and gratified by my colleagues,” Kerry, 69, told reporters after the committee vote earlier in the day. He took the unanimous decision as a sign that the opposing parties may be willing to cooperate when he takes office. “There is so much on the plate that all of us need to find a way to work together,” Kerry said. “I hope this is a symbol that all of us are ready to do that.”
During his testimony before the committee, Kerry spoke of his desire to scale back the image of the United States as a military juggernaut. Even as military officials consider a new drone base in northwestern Africa, Kerry expressed his concern over America’s growing role in the war on terror.
“Every one of us here knows that American foreign policy is not defined by drones and deployments alone,” he said during the four-hour session. “We cannot allow the extraordinary good we do to save and change lives to be eclipsed entirely by the role we have had to play since Sept. 11 — a role that was thrust upon us.”
Kerry’s predecessor Hillary Clinton has tasked Kerry with some of the nation’s most pressing foreign policy dilemmas, including the Mali conflict and the recent parliamentary elections in Israel. Speaking from the State Department earlier in the week, she suggested that the shift in leaders in Israel could make diplomacy easier.
“I actually think that this election opens doors, not nails them shut,” she said. “I know that President Obama, my successor, soon-to-be-Secretary of State John Kerry, will pursue this.”