US Senate Confirms Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State


The U.S. Senate, in an overwhelming 94 to 2 vote Wednesday, gave final approval to the nomination of Senator and former First Lady Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Action was delayed by one day because of Republican concerns about fund-raising by former President Bill Clinton's charitable foundation.

Democrats could not get the unanimous consent of Senate Republicans to allow Clinton to be confirmed along with several other Obama cabinet members just after the inauguration on Tuesday.

But after Democratic leaders allowed another airing of concerns about the Clinton Foundation in open Senate debate on Wednesday, Republicans yielded and let the vote go forward.

The foundation of former President Bill Clinton has raised more than $500 million from donors in the United States and foreign countries - including wealthy Persian Gulf states - for programs in the developing world to combat HIV/AIDS and poverty.

Republicans have said that contributions from foreign countries raise questions of possible conflicts of interest for the new Secretary of State who will be dealing with those governments.

The Clintons have agreed to ethics scrutiny, including annual public disclosure of foreign contributors, although some Republicans argued that the foundation should refuse such donations altogether.

A single Republican - Louisiana Senator David Vitter - voted against the Clinton nomination in the Foreign Relations Committee last week and Texas Republican John Cornyn blocked the early vote by the full Senate after President Obama's inauguration.

In Wednesday's session, Cornyn, who eventually voted for the nomination, said the problem is not about Clinton's qualifications as Secretary of State, but whether the foundation ethics issue will put a cloud over Obama administration diplomacy.

"We should not let our respect for Senator Clinton or admiration for the many good works of the Clinton Foundation blind us to the danger of perceived conflicts of interest caused by the solicitation of hundreds of millions of dollars from foreign and some domestic sources," said Senator Cornyn. "The perception in reality must be that the office of Secretary of State is viewed around the world as beyond reproach."

Cornyn said he wanted more frequent public reporting of foreign gifts to the foundation. But his Democratic colleague, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, said the ethics rules the Clintons have voluntary accepted already go well beyond the requirements of U.S. law or precedent set by foundations of other former Presidents.

"The Clinton Foundation does extraordinary, worthwhile, life-saving work in areas such as HIV/AIDS, global climate change, economic development in some of the most impoverished corners of this planet," said Senator Kerry. "And it's important to remember that the Clintons do not in any way personally benefit financially from the actions of foundation. So there's none of the sort of traditional notion of a financial conflict of interest. It just doesn't exist, because there is no personal financial interest by either."

In the final roll call vote, Senator Vitter voted against the nomination, as did fellow Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina.

DeMint called Hillary Clinton "uniquely well-qualified," but said he voted against her because of the expectation that as Secretary of State, Clinton would overturn Bush administration rules barring U.S. foreign aid for groups supporting abortion as a means of birth control.

DeMint also said Clinton's expressed support for more reliance on the United Nations in foreign policy would erode U.S. sovereignty.

At the Committee hearing last week, Clinton - who served eight years in the Senate - said she would pursue a foreign policy of what she termed "smart power," with multilateralism and diplomacy taking the lead.

She will officially take up her duties as Secretary of State with a welcoming ceremony for her at the State Department on Thursday morning.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs