WASHINGTON, Jan 29: The US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations unanimously confirmed Senator John F. Kerry on Tuesday as the country’s next secretary of state while the full Senate started the process for a floor vote late in the afternoon.
Senator Kerry, who expressed a strong desire for rebuilding America’s relations with Pakistan at his confirmation hearing last week, is slated to replace the outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton next week.
“No-one is better suited to take up this job than Senator Kerry,” Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat, told the full Senate, urging the lawmakers to vote for Mr Kerry.
“Very soon, he will be able to speak on behalf of this nation … we look forward to working with him,” said Senator Bob Corker, a Republican.
Senator Kerry enjoyed a bipartisan support at the committee as well where even Senator Rand Paul, who posed a bunch of tough questions during the confirmation hearing, also voted for him.
Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, noted that Mr Kerry was ‘respected’ by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle and was ‘well qualified to serve’ his nation.
“I couldn’t be more humbled and gratified by my colleagues,” Mr Kerry said after the vote, adding that he hoped the unanimous vote might be a sign of much-needed bipartisanship in Washington.
At her last media event as secretary of state on Tuesday, Mrs Clinton also praised her successor as the most suitable for this job.
“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.”
During last week’s confirmation hearing, Mr Kerry underlined the need to “build our relationship with the Pakistanis, not diminish it”.
He also opposed a suggestion from Senator Paul to stop US assistance to Pakistan if it failed to release Dr Shakil Afridi, who helped the CIA trace Osama bin Laden.
Cutting aid to Pakistan, he said, would be “a pretty dramatic, draconian, sledgehammer approach to a relationship that really has a lot of interests”.