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Nikki Haley confirmed by Senate as ambassador to the United Nations

UN Ambassador-designate, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley listens while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Evan Vucci, AP

Last Updated Jan 25, 2017 5:27 AM EST

The Senate on Tuesday evening confirmed Nikki Haley as the next ambassador to the United Nations, giving President Donald Trump his fourth official Cabinet member.

Haley, the current governor of South Carolina, was confirmed almost unanimously: 96 senators voted for her Tuesday night, compared with just four -- Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Chris Coons (D-Delaware) Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) and Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) who voted against her.

The vote by the full Senate follows the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s vote earlier Tuesday to recommend Haley’s nomination.

She took to Twitter Tuesday night:

During her hearing with the Foreign Relations Committee last week, Haley was grilled on a number of subjects ranging from Russian election interference to the Iran nuclear deal. She suggested the U.S. can’t trust Russia right now, and that “the problem is there are no boundaries with Russia.”

Haley’s appointment as ambassador to the U.N. comes at a rocky time for the global body, reports CBS News’ Pamela Falk, in large part because of a December Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, made possible by the abstention of the outgoing Obama administration. 

Last week, Haley blasted the U.S.’ decision to abstain on that vote, saying she won’t go to New York and “abstain when the U.N. seeks to create an international environment that encourages boycotts of Israel.”

Her appointment, says Falk, could temper some of President Trump’s more extreme positions on foreign policy. During the confirmation hearings, Haley talked about the importance of alliances, including NATO; she expressed support for the Iran nuclear deal -- as long as compliance is checked -- and she said the U.S. contribution to the U.N.’s budget would not be slashed.

On Russia, she said Moscow had committed war crimes, and she emphatically opposed the notion of a national Muslim registry in the U.S.

An Asian-American elected official of Indian, Sikh family background, Governor Haley has been at the forefront of trade and labor issues within South Carolina, and has traveled extensively abroad.

“What Governor Haley lacks in foreign policy and international affairs experience,” ranking Democrat Ben Cardin told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “she makes up for in capability, intelligence, and a track record of building coalitions.”

Haley joins Defense Secretary James Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and CIA Director Mike Pompeo as confirmed members of Mr. Trump’s Cabinet.

  • Emily Schultheis

    Emily Schultheis is a reporter/editor for CBS News Digital.