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US Senate Confirms Biden's Longtime Aide Antony Blinken as Secretary of State

File photo of Antony Blinken (Reuters)

File photo of Antony Blinken (Reuters)

Blinken, a longtime adviser to President Joe Biden who has vowed to repair US alliances, quickly crossed the threshold of 50 votes as the Senate was voting.

The US Senate on Tuesday confirmed Antony Blinken as secretary of state, with key members of the rival Republican Party backing him.

Blinken, a longtime adviser to President Joe Biden who has vowed to repair US alliances, quickly crossed the threshold of 50 votes as the Senate was voting.

Many lawmakers, including some Republicans, said they wanted Biden's national security team to be in place as quickly as possible.

"The world is on fire right now, with pressing crises in every region and hemisphere," said Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the foreign relations panel, who is due to become its chairman.

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Blinken is a longtime Biden confidant who has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate before, most recently to serve as No. 2 at the State Department during former Democratic President Barack Obama's administration, when Biden was vice president.

The 100-member Senate was divided 50-50 but controlled by Biden's fellow Democrats because Vice President Kamala Harris could break any tie. Blinken needed only a simple majority to be confirmed.

Blinken's confirmation hearing before the foreign relations panel went smoothly last week, with both Democrats and Republicans offering praise. Blinken was a committee staff director before he joined the Obama administration.

Blinken's confirmation process did not begin as early as is typical for a secretary of state, as former President Donald Trump fought Biden's election victory with fruitless court challenges. Trump supporters attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Senate leaders also have been jockeying over rules for how the chamber should conduct its business, given the 50-50 split between the two parties.

first published:January 26, 2021, 23:07 IST