The Senate easily confirmed President Barack Obama’s selection for ambassador to the United Nations on Thursday, capping a month in which senators used a bipartisan truce on once-mired nominations to fill a cluster of vacancies in the president’s second-term administration.
Senators approved Samantha Power for the post by 87-10. The vote gives the former Obama foreign policy adviser and outspoken human rights advocate the job formerly held by Susan Rice, whom the president has made his national security adviser.
“As a longtime champion of human rights and dignity, she will be a fierce advocate for universal rights, fundamental freedoms and U.S. national interests,” Obama said in a written statement after the vote.
Power joined a list of nominees that senators have approved since striking a bipartisan deal in mid-July. Republicans agreed to allow votes on seven of Obama’s picks after Democrats agreed to drop plans to invoke the so-called nuclear option, forcing changes in Senate rules that would have made it harder for the chamber’s minority parties to block some nominations.
Over the past three weeks, senators have approved Obama’s choices to head the Environmental Protection Agency, the FBI, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other agencies.
With Congress about to start a summer recess, many leaders are hoping that the bipartisan cooperation will survive into the fall, when lawmakers face nasty fights over the budget, immigration and other issues.
Powers has been “a tireless defender of human rights,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). “She has seen the tragedy of human suffering from the front lines, firsthand.”
Speaking against her nomination was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). He said the next U.N. ambassador must focus on making sure the world organization is “more accountable, that it is more effective, and that it is just not some multilateral ideal in which we invest all of our hopes.” He said he doubted the administration’s and Power’s willingness to do that.
Power’s penchant for outspokenness has included her 2002 call for a “mammoth protection force” to prevent Middle East violence, from which she has distanced herself.
In 2008, she resigned as an adviser to Obama’s presidential campaign after calling then-rival Hillary Clinton a “monster.”