Senate confirms Cindy McCain and Jeff Flake as ambassador

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate on Tuesday confirmed two prominent anti-Trump Republicans to serve in the Biden administration with former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake approved to serve as ambassador to Turkey and Cindy McCain, wife of the late Senator John McCain, approved to serve as Ambassador to United Nations Food and Agriculture Agencies.

The Senate also voted to confirm former Democratic Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico as Ambassador to New Zealand and Victoria Reggie Kennedy of Massachusetts, widow of former Senator Ted Kennedy, as Ambassador in Austria.

The nominations were approved by voice vote, a process taking only a few minutes that can be used as long as no senator objects. Republicans, led by Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, need the vast majority of Biden’s other State Department candidates go through a much longer and longer process.

Senator Chris Coons, D-Del., Thanked Senators for moving quickly on the four nominations, but said he remained concerned about the overall pace of confirmations for the President’s diplomatic corps.

“There are dozens of countries where there is no confirmed US ambassador, and I hope this moment of progress will be a predictor of further progress to come,” Coons said.

Flake was a rare critic of former President Donald Trump among Senate Republicans. He served only one term in the Senate, choosing not to be re-elected in the face of what was sure to be a tough GOP primary.

McCain backed Biden in the presidential election, which at the time was seen as likely to help Biden broaden his appeal to Republicans and Independents in Arizona, a crucial pivotal state her husband had represented in Congress for 35 years.

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