The Senate on Thursday approved Samantha Power to become U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, clearing the decks of all of President Obama's nominees who had stacked up in the face of Republican delays.
The Irish-born Ms. Power sailed through the Senate on a 87-10 vote, making her the nation's 28th representative to the U.N.
Ms. Power, 42, replaces Susan E. Rice, who left the job in June to become national security adviser to President Obama after coming under fire for falsely saying an anti-Islam film helped spark terrorist attacks on a diplomatic post in Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.
Ms. Power was the last of a group of nominees that almost brought the Senate to the brink of a partisan "nuclear" war last month. Mr. Obama won confirmation of almost all the nominees he put forward with the exception of two National Labor Relations Board nominees who he swapped out with other picks whom the Senate GOP agreed to accept as part of a deal to prevent a filibuster fight.
But potential battles still loom.
When Congress returns from its five-week August recess, lawmakers will consider another round of controversial appointees, this time to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Speaking on the floor of the upper chamber Thursday, Sen. Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Ms. Power is a good fit for the job because she knows the strengths and weaknesses of the United Nations and will not apologize for the U.S. on the world stage.
"At the end of the day, the United States needs a representative at the U.N. who will uphold American values, promote human rights, secure our interests and the interests of our national security," Mr. Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, said. "I have every confidence in Samantha Power's abilities to do exactly that."
Sen. Marco Rubio, the sole Republican to voice his opposition on the Senate floor, said Ms. Power has not come clean about whether she believes that the U.S. has committed or sponsored crimes across the globe — echoing lingering concerns about comments she has made about Israel and U.S. foreign policy.
The Florida Republican, and likely 2016 presidential contender, ripped the Obama administration's approach to foreign policy and said he is not convinced that Ms. Power is committed to reforming the United Nations of its money-wasting and secretive ways and its anti-Israel posturings.
"The United Nations is badly broken, and I hope we will work to force meaningful transparency and accountability reform for the U.N., but so far this administration does not seem very interested in doing so, and, unfortunately at least based on our conversations, neither does the nominee before us," Mr. Rubio said.
Mr. Obama said he was pleased that a strong bipartisan majority supported Ms. Power, whom he called "one of our country's leading foreign policy thinkers."
"Samantha knows that our nation's interests are advanced with strong and principled American leadership," Mr. Obama said.
Ms. Power, a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, worked as a senior foreign policy adviser to Mr. Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, and as a former special assistant to the president and senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights at the National Security Council.
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