WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted in favor of confirming Antony Blinken as President Joe Biden’s secretary of state.
The confirmation came in a bipartisan 78-22 vote on Tuesday. Blinken, who will become the nation’s top diplomat, will be tasked with strengthening international alliances that had been weakened under the Trump administration’s “America First” doctrine, according to The Associated Press.
Blinken is expected to start in the role almost immediately, Politico reported.
The 58-year-old, who previously served as national security advisor to then-Vice President Biden, will be sworn in as the 71st secretary of state, following Mike Pompeo. The position will place him fourth in the line of presidential succession, the AP reported.
His confirmation comes after the Senate approved of the nominations of Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, two other incoming members of Biden’s national security team.
In a confirmation hearing last week, Blinken vowed to take a bipartisan approach to addressing the issues the nation faces, Bloomberg reported.
“American leadership still matters,” he said during testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “The reality is that the world doesn’t organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we don’t lead, then one of two things happen: either some other country tries to take our place, but probably not in a way that advances our interests or values. Or no one does, and then you get chaos.”
Blinken had gone through the Senate confirmation process before, after he was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as deputy secretary of state in 2014. Before taking that role, he served as deputy national security advisor and previously served on the National Security Council in the Clinton administration.
His nomination garnered bipartisan praise, with Sen. Bob Mendez, D-N.J., calling him “the right person to repair and restore our alliances, to rebuild and renew the State Department,” according to USA Today. Sen. James Risch, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, echoed his comments, pointing to Blinken’s “long and distinguished history when it comes to state-craft and foreign relations matters.”
However, not all Republicans supported Blinken’s nomination. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who has long opposed U.S. military intervention, criticized Blinken on the Senate floor Tuesday, saying that he “has been a full-throated advocate of military intervention in the Middle East for 20 years,” according to USA Today.
“He’s more of the same,” Paul said.