The U.S. Senate has given an overwhelming thumbs-up to President Barack Obama's pick for his highest-ranking cabinet position during his second term in the White House, Democratic lawmaker and onetime presidential aspirant John Kerry.
The Senate voted 94 to 3 to confirm Kerry, a longtime member of the upper chamber who chaired its Foreign Relations Committee. Kerry, who ran unsuccessfully for president against Republican President George W. Bush in 2004, served in the U.S. Navy and completed two tours of duty in Vietnam, including an assignment on a Swift Boat. He earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with Combat V, and three Purple Hearts.
The three no votes were cast by Republican U.S. Sens. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, and Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas.
Inhofe, who described himself as a close friend of Kerry's but on oppose sides of the climate-change debate, told The Washington Post he voted against his colleague because he "never agreed with him on anything, going all the way back to the Sandinistas."
Cornyn's spokeswoman told the Dallas Morning News the lawmaker voted against Kerry because of his "long history of liberal positions that are not consistent with a majority of Texans. After reviewing the nomination hearing, Sen. Cornyn could not support Sen. Kerry's nomination."
Obama praised Kerry's service in the armed forces and Senate.
"From his decorated service in Vietnam to his decades in the Senate as a champion of American global leadership, John's distinguished career has prepared him to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead," Obama said in written remarks.
"John has earned the respect of leaders around the world and the confidence of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, and I am confident he will make an extraordinary Secretary of State. I look forward to his counsel and partnership in the years ahead as we ensure American leadership in the world and advance the interests and values that keep our nation strong."
Kerry replaces possible 2016 presidential hopeful and former U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton. The secretary of state serves as the nation's top diplomat, assists the president in all matters of foreign policy and serves as the liaison between the United States and other countries.
[Photo of John Kerry/Getty Images News]