The Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday unanimously approved the nomination of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.
"John, you know who is the only person happier than you right now? Hillary Clinton," said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), as Kerry entered the SFRC committee room just after the voice vote that sent Kerry's nomination on to full Senate consideration.
The Tuesday morning business meeting was chaired by Kerry's presumptive successor as chairman, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) is now the official ranking Republican on the committee. Kerry is still technically the chairman.
Kerry plans to give a farewell floor speech Wednesday. Hill aides say that his formal confirmation could come as early as today and he is expected to be confirmed by a unanimous or near-unanimous vote. His swearing-in ceremony at Foggy Bottom could be as early as Friday, and his first day could come next Monday.
Menendez presented to Kerry a committee resolution commemorating his time as SFRC chairman and listing several of his foreign-policy achievements during his time in the Senate.
"You've had a lightening-speed approval by the committee," Menendez said. "[The resolution] is a lengthy recitation of an incredible career here in the Senate, some tremendous accomplishments on behalf of the nation, and a recognition of how you are going to be an incredible secretary of state."
"I'm honored beyond words," Kerry said. "This committee is a great committee. It has been such a privilege to sit around this table and talk about the important issues of our time."
"This committee is going to be absolutely critical to putting America's best foot forward and helping us hopefully make peace in places where it isn't and advancing our values and principles," he said. "What a privilege it has been to work with you and now to work with you in a different way."
Kerry spoke briefly to reporters in the hallway following the meeting.
"There's so much on the plate that we need to find a way to work together. I hope this is a symbol that people are prepared to do that," he said. "I'm very wistful about [leaving the Senate]; it isn't easy."
UPDATE: The senate confirmed Kerry Tuesday afternoon by a vote of 94-3. Sens. James Inhofe (R-OK), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) voted no. Kerry voted "present."
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John Hudson reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.