Kelly Craft confirmed as new US envoy to UN
WASHINGTON - The US Senate Wednesday confirmed Kelly Craft as the new US Ambassador to the United Nations in a 56-34 vote, filling a seven-month-long vacancy.
The largely party-line vote on Craft demonstrated a sharp contrast to that of her predecessor, Nikki Haley, who was supported by 96 senators during her confirmation vote in 2017.
In a floor speech prior to the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised Craft as "a very impressive individual to serve in the critical role of UN ambassador", despite strong concerns from Democratic lawmakers, who questioned Craft's qualifications, position regarding climate change, and possible conflict of interest.
"She lacks the experience necessary to stand up for American values and promote our national security on the global stage," said Bob Menendez, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"During her brief diplomatic tenure in Canada, she posted so many absences that I cannot describe it as anything less than a dereliction of duty," he said.
Craft, 57, is currently the US ambassador to Canada, where she was involved in negotiations over a revised North American free trade pact.
Craft was found to have spent more than half of her time in office outside Canada, according to a report by Menendez prior to the vote. The ambassador replied by saying that she had been spending time away from Ottawa to advance trade deals on the behalf of her country.
At the hearing, Craft was also criticized by the Democrats for her previous remarks doubting the causes and severity of climate change.
Craft said that she acknowledged the "vast amount of science" regarding the phenomenon and the role humans have played. "If confirmed, I will be an advocate for addressing climate change."
Haley stepped down in December 2018. Former State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert was initially tapped to succeed Haley, but withdrew her nomination in February, citing family considerations.