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Senate overwhelmingly confirms Nikki Haley as U.N. ambassador

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as she testified on Capitol Hill during her U.N. ambassador confirmation hearings. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The U.S. Senate officially confirmed Nikki Haley as the next ambassador to the United Nations Tuesday evening in a 96-4 vote.

Haley resigned as South Carolina's Republican governor following the vote.

Despite lacking strong foreign policy experience, Haley flew through her confirmation hearing last week. And she received well over the 51 votes needed to be confirmed Tuesday.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Tuesday evening ahead of the full Senate vote that while he initially had concerns about Haley, now he is "extremely impressed."

Those who voted no were: Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).

"Governor Nikki Haley was the right governor for the right time in South Carolina's history. She has led our state through many difficult days with grace and humility," S.C. GOP chairman Matt Moore said in a statement Tuesday. "We will miss Governor Haley's strong, principled leadership — but we'll also miss her compassion, kindness and love for our state."

South Carolina's Democratic Party also tweeted out its congratulations to Haley Tuesday.

Haley's been widely praised for her leadership of the Palmetto State during the debate and removal of the Confederate flag from the Statehouse as well as for leading the state through the aftermath of an avowed white supremacist gunning down nine black churchgoers during a Bible study.

Haley cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier Tuesday with a 19-2 voice vote. Two Democrats,  Coons and Udall, objected.

"She did not convince me that she understands and embraces the foreign policy principles that the United States has championed over the past 70 years to serve effectively as ambassador to the United Nations," Coons said.

Ahead of the panel vote, Cardin released a statement in which he expressed his intent to vote in support of Haley.

He said:

 What Governor Haley lacks in foreign policy and international affairs experience, she makes up for in capability, intelligence and a track record of building coalitions in South Carolina. Her nomination was surprising to many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, but I have been impressed by her forthrightness on core American values, her willingness to admit what she does not know, and her commitment to seeking the facts and speaking truth to power.

During her confirmation hearing last week, Haley promised to "educate" President Donald Trump on foreign policy issues and alleviated Democrats' concerns as she seemingly broke with the president on certain foreign affairs issues. Though she has little foreign policy experience herself, she touted her experience as a governor during her hearing.

Henry McMaster, who was the state's lieutenant governor, will take over as South Carolina's top official.

In her new job, Haley will move to New York City where she will reportedly make $187,000 a year — more than $80,000 more than her salary as governor. She will reside in Manhattan's elite Waldorf Astoria hotel.

With her confirmation vote Tuesday, Haley joins Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo in Trump's Cabinet.



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