News

US Senate Confirms Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State

Multimedia

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.
Comments
     
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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs