The Senate this afternoon overwhelmingly voted in favor of approving John Kerry’s nomination to become Secretary of State, with only three Senators — Ted Cruz (R-TX), John Cornyn (R-TX), and James Inhofe (R-OK) — voting against their colleague. Earlier today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee moved forward Kerry to the full Senate unanimously, reflecting the relative ease that Kerry has had in ascending to Obama’s second term cabinet.
Kerry has spent the last twenty-eight years in the Senate representing Massachusetts, all of them serving on the Foreign Relations committee, the last four as Chairman. The closeness in foreign policy vision that he shares with the Obama administration made Kerry one of the most likely choices to take the reins of State for the next four years. The ties between the two during Kerry’s chairman ship was close enough that former Sen. Gary Hart once called Kerry effectively “the congressional secretary of state.”
Kerry is the first of the President’s nominees to be confirmed following his inaugural. Kerry and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been speaking “almost daily” to prepare him to move into the 7th floor office in Foggy Bottom. Secretary Clinton will be stepping down following her last day on the job, Friday, Feb. 1.
Starting then, Kerry will have a full diplomatic plate, including pending negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, managing a rising China, limiting fallout from the Arab Spring in the Middle East, and advancing international action on climate change. In meeting these challenges, Kerry will find himself working closely with his replacement as Chairman on the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
Kerry’s pending resignation of his Senate seat will prompt a decision among the people of Massachusetts regarding his successor. Retired Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) has made no secret of his desire to be named as interim Senator by Gov. Deval Patrick (D). No matter who temporarily fills the seat, a special election will be held in June, following an April primary. Former Sen. Scott Brown is thought to be the most likely Republican candidate, while Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) has received the support of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and other key Massachusetts Democrats.