The Senate confirmed the nomination of John F. Kerry to be secretary of state by a near-unanimous vote on Tuesday, with just three Republicans refusing to join an otherwise bipartisan chorus of support for the five-term Democratic senator from Massachusetts.
Texas Republicans Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, along with James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, voted against the confirmation, with a spokesman for Mr. Cornyn telling The Times that Mr. Kerry’s “long history of liberal positions” are simply “not consistent with a majority of Texans.”
“After listening to the nomination hearing, Sen. Cornyn could not support Sen. Kerry’s nomination,” the spokesman said.
“I expect Kerry will spend a significant amount of his time supporting the United Nations with a revived Kyoto treaty to combat climate change, which would be devastating to every facet of our economy,” he said.
But most Republicans were much more receptive. With two Democrats not present and Mr. Kerry abstaining, the 94-3 vote in his favor capped a day in which senators on both sides of the aisle gushed about the man who last captured international headlines as the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee.
“I look to Sen. Kerry as a realist,” said Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Mr. Corker added that while he may not always agree with Mr. Kerry’s policy positions, “I have always found him as someone who is open to discussion.”
The remarks came like a final little gust in the collective sigh of relief that Republicans have been letting out since last month when Susan Rice, the Obama administration’s U.N. ambassador, withdrew from the running for the job.
Mrs. Rice had been the presumed front-runner prior to emerging as a lightning rod for GOP criticism over remarks she made about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Republican heavyweights since have been quick to get behind Mr. Kerry — even as foreign-policy experts contend that he is unlikely to stray from his record of favoring assiduous debate and analysis before advocating any kind of U.S. engagement overseas.
The Foreign Relations Committee approved his confirmation unanimously Tuesday morning.
Mr. Kerry is “respected” by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle and is “well-qualified to serve,” said Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, after the vote.
Mr. Kerry, who is slated to replace outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton next week, told reporters that he is “wistful” about leaving the Senate. “I couldn’t be more humbled and gratified by my colleagues,” he said, adding that he hoped the unanimous committee vote might be a sign of much-needed bipartisanship in Washington.
“There is so much on the plate that all of us need to find a way to work together,” Mr. Kerry said. “I hope this is a symbol that all of us are ready to do that.”
Mr. Kerry first made headlines three decades ago as an activist and spokesman for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. During last week’s confirmation hearing, he portrayed himself as a staunch advocate of American power.
He also cast himself as a statesman concerned with America’s image as an empire too eager to resort to military tactics in a “complicated and ever-more dangerous world.”