John Kerry clears first hurdle to confirmation as Secretary of State
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, before his confirmation hearing to become Secretary of State. / AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Kerry Sec. of State confirmation expected today
Updated: 11:05 a.m. ET
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., sailed through the first round of votes this morning in the confirmation process to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, winning the approval of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by a voice vote with no opposition.
The senators had already voted unanimously in his favor when Kerry entered the room to applause.
"I'm honored beyond words," Kerry said, after Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., presented him with a certificate of recognition for his service as chairman. "What a privilege to work with you and now to work with you in a different way."
The longtime senator was not expected to face major opposition from the Senate committee: He served on it for nearly 30 years, most recently as its chairman, and made no major news last week when he testified before his colleagues in the confirmation hearings for this job.
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Kerry now faces a full Senate vote, which could take place as early as this afternoon. Pending that approval, he could be sworn into office by Friday -- which is also Clinton's last day on the job.
Kerry on his way to becoming Secretary of State: "What a privilege"
Kerry's confirmation process has so far been markedly uncontroversial, and serves as a stark contrast to that which might have taken place had President Obama tapped U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, another top contender, for the job. Rice, however, withdrew her name from consideration to replace Clinton in December, after sustaining prolonged criticism from Senate Republicans for comments she made about the September 11 attacks in Benghazi. Among those leading the criticism was Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a longtime friend of Kerry's who spoke on his behalf in the confirmation hearings last week.
If approved to head the State Department, Kerry's departure from the Senate will open up his Massachusetts seat. According to a report yesterday from the Boston Globe, a special election to fill his spot has already been set for June 25.
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