The Senate approved Antony Blinken as the new secretary of state on Tuesday with bipartisan support. 78-22 was the final vote.
Blinken, 58, was unanimously endorsed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier. Blinken will face a number of national security problems as the top U.S. diplomat, including how to negotiate with China, Russia, and Iran. Blinken has promised to restore to the world stage American leadership. One of the Biden administration’s first actions was to begin the process of rejoining the Paris climate agreement.
As Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, “The world is on fire right now, with pressing crises in every region and hemisphere,” On the eve of the confirmation vote, he told senators that Blinken was well-suited for the role.
Blinken defended the nuclear deal with Iran, from which the U.S. withdrew under Trump, and told senators that he would consult Iran with them, making it clear that Tehran would have to return to Washington’s agreement to ease sanctions.
Sen. James Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Tuesday that he disagreed with Blinken on Iran but discovered “tremendous areas of agreement” on other issues and cited Blinken’s “long and distinguished history when it comes to statecraft in foreign relations matters.”
The new Secretary of State is immersed in the diplomatic world. He’s a Harvard University and Columbia Law School graduate who speaks French fluently. Both his father and his uncle served as ambassadors. He told senators that he sees public service as a “sacred duty — payment on the debt our family owes to the nation that gave us refuge and extraordinary opportunities across the generations.”