Senate confirms John Kerry secretary of state

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WASHINGTON -- The Senate overwhelmingly confirmed President Barack Obama's choice of five-term Sen. John Kerry to be secretary of state, with Republicans and Democrats praising him as the ideal successor to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The vote yesterday was 94-3. One senator -- Kerry -- voted present and accepted congratulations on the Senate floor. The roll call came just hours after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved the man who has led the panel for the past four years.

No date has been set for Kerry's swearing-in, but in a letter to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Kerry says his resignation is effective at 4 p.m. Friday.

Obama tapped Kerry, 69, a decorated Vietnam veteran, 2004 Democratic presidential candidate and son of a diplomat, to succeed Clinton, who is stepping down after four years. The Massachusetts Democrat, who had pined for the job but was passed over in 2009, has served as Obama's unofficial envoy, smoothing fractious ties with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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"Sen. Kerry will need no introduction to the world's political and military leaders and will begin Day One fully conversant not only with the intricacies of U.S. foreign policy, but able to act on a multitude of international stages," said Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who will succeed Kerry as committee chairman.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., called Kerry "a realist." Voting against Kerry were three Republicans -- Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, and John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas. "Sen. Kerry has a long history of liberal positions that are not consistent with a majority of Texans," Cornyn said in a statement.

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