US Senate confirms Biden nominee Blinken as secretary of state

The US Senate on Tuesday confirmed President Joe Biden’s nominee, veteran diplomat Antony Blinken, to serve as secretary of state.

The 100-member Senate backed Blinken 78-22, meaning he could be sworn in as the nation’s top diplomat later in the day. A simple majority was needed in the Democratic-controlled chamber for his confirmation.

Blinken is a longtime Biden confidant who has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate before, most recently to serve as No. 2 at the State Department during former Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration, when Biden was vice president.

At his confirmation before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee lats week, Blinken pledged to work more closely with allies after former President Donald Trump’s “America First” approach to foreign affairs. Blinken said he would work to revitalize damaged American diplomacy and build a united front to counter the challenges posed by Russia, China and Iran.

The 100-member Senate is divided 50-50 but controlled by Biden’s fellow Democrats because Vice President Kamala Harris can break any tie.

All of the votes against Blinken’s confirmation came from Republicans.

Blinken’s confirmation hearing went smoothly, with both Democrats and Republicans offering praise. Blinken was a committee staff director - when Biden, who spent decades in the Senate, was chairman - before he joined the Obama administration.

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