- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Senate overwhelmingly confirmed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as the next secretary of state Wednesday, with two Republican members opposing the nomination because of concerns about foreign donations to former President Bill Clinton’s foundation.

Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, said he voted against the nomination because Mrs. Clinton had refused to provide guarantees that her husband’s foundation will not receive donations from foreign government while she is in office. Such a pledge, he said, would remove any temptations for other countries to try to influence U.S. policies.

The other opposing vote was cast by Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, who was the only dissenting voice when the Foreign Relations Committee recommended approval to the full Senate last week.

Mrs. Clinton, who replaces Condoleezza Rice as chief diplomat, was expected to be sworn in later Wednesday. A welcome ceremony at the State Department was planned for Thursday.

Last month, the Clinton Foundation and President Obama’s transition team agreed to make public a list of its past contributors, annually publish the names of its current donors and agree to submit future foreign donations to a State Department ethics review.

But many senators from both parties, while recognizing that those measures go beyond legal requirements, have suggested that the foundation stop receiving foreign donations altogether to avoid even the perception of conflicts of interest.

Most of them, however, said that the lack of such an arrangement is no reason to hold up or reject Mrs. Clinton’s nomination. A senator who had blocked approval by unanimous consent earlier said Wednesday that he would support the nomination.

“I intend to vote for her confirmation. But I also think it’s important to flesh out the concerns raised,” Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said on the Senate floor. “If we are going to restore trust between the American people and their government, we need to be sure the reality matches the rhetoric.”

Mr. Cornyn disrupted the Democratic majority’s plan to confirm Mrs. Clinton, along with his other Cabinet nominations, on Tuesday.

But in his remarks on the floor, he said he had a conversation with Mrs. Clinton during the Inaugural events and that she was open to a broader public disclosure of the Clinton Foundation’s donations.

Senators on both sides of the aisle highly praised Mrs. Clinton’s qualifications for the position, as they had done during her confirmation hearing before the Foreign Relations Committee.

Members also praised the Clinton Foundation’s achievements around the world, which they said save and improve lives in many countries. The foundation receives about $500 million in donations, which are used to help fight HIV/AIDS, global warming and poverty.

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