The Senate on Tuesday voted 78-22 to confirm Antony Blinken as the next secretary of state — who will be a key figure in President Biden’s efforts to restore alliances across the globe and forge a new foreign policy approach.
Blinken, who has worked for the Senate and the Clinton and Obama administrations, said his priorities are building up the diplomatic corps and revitalizing core alliances.
Blinken, 58, was a member of President Bill Clinton’s National Security Council staff from 1994 to 2001. He began his long relationship with Biden in 2002 when he became the Democratic Staff Director for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where Biden served as chairman.
When Biden became vice president in 2009, Blinken also moved over to the Administration as Biden’s national security adviser and later promoted to deputy national security adviser to President Obama.
Blinken was already confirmed once before by the Senate on Dec. 16, 2014, when Obama nominated Blinken to become deputy secretary of state under John Kerry. The vote was 55-38.
He’s earned bipartisan praise for his long foreign policy expertise and for his responses during a smooth confirmation hearing on Jan. 19. However, critics have accused him of being on the wrong side of key foreign policy matters.
He was Biden’s adviser when the then-senator backed the Iraq War — something Biden later called a mistake. Blinken also reportedly supported military action in Libya and push for the U.S. to be more aggressive in Syria.
“I think it would be a grave mistake to confirm a secretary of state who has a demonstrated track record of repeatedly making the wrong decisions when it comes to American foreign policy and national security,” said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., during Blinken’s confirmation hearing.
Blinken will play a key role in reversing much of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy moves as Biden has indicated he intends. Biden has promised to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal, from which President Trump withdrew, re-establish relations with Cuba and push for a new START nuclear deal with Russia.
However, Blinken said last week that Trump was right to take a tougher stance on China.
“President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China,” said Blinken. “Not the way he went about it in a number of ways, but the basic principle was right.”
Already Biden has halted the U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization and re-entered the Paris climate agreement.
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.
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