Senate overwhelmingly approves John Kerry for secretary of State

Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) was confirmed by an overwhelming majority in the Senate as the next secretary of State.

(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to confirm Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) as the next secretary of State, filling a crucial national security spot in President Obama’s second-term Cabinet.

The 94-3 vote clears the way for Kerry to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton after she steps down Friday.

Kerry, who will become America’s 68th top diplomat, failed to win only three Republican votes — those of Sens. John Cornyn and Rafael “Ted” Cruz, both of Texas, and Sen. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma.

A spokesman for Cornyn said Kerry supported liberal positions that most Texans oppose. Cruz has criticized Kerry, who fought in the Vietnam War, as anti-military.

Earlier Tuesday, Kerry received the unanimous endorsement of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a voice vote. He served on the committee for 28 years and chaired it for the last four.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the ranking Republican on the committee, praised Kerry as a “realist” on foreign affairs issues, and said he was always “open to discussion” with colleagues of the opposite party.

Corker, noting that Kerry’s father was a foreign service officer, said he knew of no one “who’s lived a life that’s been ultimately more oriented toward being secretary of State.”

Leading Republican senators had promoted Kerry as an alternative to Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, for the job. Rice withdrew her name from consideration after Republicans criticized her for statements she made on TV talk shows after the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

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