A seasoned diplomat who served as Assistant Secretary of State for Africa under Barack Obama’s administration, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, 68, was confirmed by 78 votes to 20 in the upper house, which has the power to approve or to reject presidential nominations.
The Senate also confirmed by an overwhelming majority on Tuesday Tom Vilsack, 70, as Minister of Agriculture, a post he had held throughout the Obama presidency (2009-2017): 92 votes in favor and seven against .
Other members chosen by Joe Biden for his cabinet face stronger resistance, including his candidate to head the Ministry of Health, Xavier Becerra, who spent Tuesday on the grill of senators in committee.
“We will study Mr Becerra’s testimony today but I find it hard to see how such a radical and underqualified candidate could take such a crucial position at such a critical time” of the Covid-19 pandemic , said Leader of the Republican Senators Mitch McConnell.
Democrats have a tiny majority in the Senate: with 50 seats against 50 Republicans, they can count on the voice of Vice President Kamala Harris, who has the power to tie the votes.
If he retains the support of all Democrats, Mr. Becerra, 63, can therefore be confirmed and become the first Hispanic to head this ministry.
Another Joe Biden candidate, Neera Tanden, appointed to lead the budget in the White House, appears in greater difficulty after a Democratic senator announced Friday that he would oppose her confirmation. She will therefore have to find at least Republican support to become the first woman of Indian origin to head the Office of Management and Budget at the White House (OMB).
The Senate has so far confirmed less than half of the 23 cabinet members of Joe Biden, who came to power on January 20.