Senate Confirms Blinken as Biden's Secretary of State

Senate Confirms Blinken as Biden's Secretary of State
Nominee for U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 19, 2021. (Graeme Jennings/Pool/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed President Joe Biden's nominee for secretary of state.

Antony Blinken, a longtime aide to Biden, was approved by a vote of 78-22 in the upper chamber. His predecessor is former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

His confirmation was welcomed by most Democrats and some Republicans, as well as the U.S. Foreign Service political association.

"Leadership of the Department of State, our nation's oldest cabinet agency, represents a great responsibility," the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) said in a statement after he was confirmed. "As we have done for his predecessors, AFSA extends our congratulations and welcome to Secretary Blinken. We wish the Secretary and his team the best of luck in the years ahead. AFSA and its members pledge to work alongside them to strengthen the career Foreign Service and protect and enhance the institution that is American diplomacy."

Blinken, during his confirmation hearing in the upper chamber last week, told senators that he would re-engage with Congress on key foreign policy initiatives.

Regarding the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which Pompeo has described as the greatest threat to the United States, Blinken said former President Donald Trump "was right in taking a tougher approach to China."

"I disagree, very much, with the way that he went about it in a number of areas, but the basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy," Blinken said. He did not elaborate on what steps he would take to counter the CCP.

He was pressed about whether the United States would rejoin the controversial 2015 Iran nuclear deal that it left under the Trump administration.

"The President-elect believes that if Iran comes back into compliance, we would too," Blinken said on Jan. 19, referring to Biden. "But, we would use that as a platform with our allies and partners who would once again be on the same side with us, to seek a longer and stronger agreement. And also, as you and the chairman have rightly pointed out, to capture these other issues, particularly with regard to missiles and Iran's destabilizing activities. That would be the objective."

The confirmation follows the Senate's approval of Avril Haines for Biden's pick as director of national intelligence, which leads the nation's 18 intelligence agencies, as well as Lloyd Austin for secretary of Defense and Janet Yellen to head the Department of Treasury.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) suggested Blinken would lead the U.S. into foreign entanglements and wars.

"Mr. Blinken has been a full-throated advocate of military intervention in the Middle East for 20 years," he said last week, citing Blinken's support for the military interventions in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Paul described Blinken as "more of the same," saying he is part of a coalition of Republicans and Democrats who support American interventionism and the military-industrial complex.