Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) will finally get the job he has wanted for a very long time. On Tuesday afternoon the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was confirmed overwhelmingly by the Senate to be the next secretary of state. He could be sworn in as early as Wednesday to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The vote was 93-3 and the only opposition came from Republican Senators James Inhofe of Oklahoma, and John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas.
“He brings enormous credibility, a lifetime of knowledge, and profound expertise to this critically important job.” said Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who said he expects the newly minted top diplomat to testify before his committee soon.
With Kerry’s departure, the new chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee will be Sen. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey).
Marc R. Stanley, chair of the National Jewish Democratic Council, issued a statement saying, “Kerry has a long record of support for Israel and demonstrated during his confirmation hearing that he is the right person to be taking a global leadership role against a nuclear-armed Iran.”
Kerry said at his confirmation hearings last week that shortly after he is sworn in as Secretary of State and the new Netanyahu government takes office he intends to go to Israel to meet with the new leadership and attempt to revive the peace process because he feels it would be “disastrous” to fail to reach a two-state agreement.
Kerry is a Roman Catholic whose Jewish grandparents converted in 19th century Europe and changed their name from Kohn to Kerry in the face of intense anti-Semitism. His brother, Cameron, converted to Judaism in 1983.
Just-retired Rep. Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) has asked Gov. Deval Patrick to name him Kerry’s temporary successor until a special election can be held in a few months to fill the vacancy. The governor is expected to have an announcement on Wednesday.
Kerry, the unsuccessful 2004 Republican presidential candidate, is a Vietnam War veteran and the son of a Foreign Service officer.
Cornyn said he voted against Kerry because he “has a long history of liberal positions that are not consistent with a majority of Texans.” Translation: the already conservative Cornyn is expected to face strong primary opposition next year in his reelection campaign from Tea Party types like his newly elected colleague, Cruz, who also voted no. (So look for him to do what John McCain did two years ago when he faced tough arch conservative opposition — move farther and farther to the right.)