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Senate confirms John Kerry, a foreign-policy buff who has Obama's trust

The Senate voted 94-to-3 to confirm John Kerry as secretary of State. He has Obama's trust and appears in sync with him on policy, but the president may be primarily focused on domestic affairs.

By Staff writer / January 29, 2013

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., emerges after a unanimous vote by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approving him to become America's next top diplomat, replacing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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Washington

The Senate confirmed John Kerry Tuesday as President Obama’s second secretary of state – granting Senator-turned-Secretary Kerry a nearly lifelong wish.

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At the same time, Kerry’s confirmation to take over for outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sparks questions about what the foreign-policy buff will be able to accomplish under a domestic-policy-focused White House.

Kerry sailed to confirmation on a 94-to-3 vote, just hours after the Foreign Relations Committee he chaired for four years recommended him to the Senate with a unanimous vote. The Massachusetts Democrat is expected to almost immediately take over from Secretary Clinton, whose last scheduled day on the job is Friday.

A smiling Kerry, who was on the Senate floor as the vote was taken, waved to his colleagues and acknowledged their applause as the results were announced. Voting no were three Republicans: Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas and James Inhofe of Oklahoma. Kerry voted “present.”

Sen. Charles Schumer (D) of New York prefaced a turn to other business by saying the Senate is “so proud” of Kerry, adding, “For John Kerry, the best is yet to come.”

After the earlier committee vote, Kerry said he hoped the support he received from all the panel’s Democrats and Republicans was a harbinger of much-needed bipartisanship on the issues America faces abroad. “There is so much on the plate that all of us need to find a way to work together,” Kerry said. “I hope this is a symbol that all of us are ready to do that.”

At his confirmation hearing last week, Kerry spoke of Syria’s civil war and climate change as two issues he plans to give immediate attention. Since that hearing, events in Egypt have no doubt moved that key Middle Eastern country up on the to-do list.

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