Senate panel backs Clinton as Sec. of State

January 15, 2009 7:35:29 AM PST
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Rodham Clinton to become the next secretary of State, endorsing President-elect Barack Obama's promise to take U.S. foreign policy in a new direction. The action paves way for a full Senate vote after Obama takes office on Jan. 20. Clinton is not expected to hit any major roadblocks, with Republicans and Democrats alike praising her acumen on the issues.

But concerns about her husband's charitable fundraising overseas remains. Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, who was among several Republicans who raised the issue at her confirmation hearing earlier this week, cast the lone opposing vote.

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said he too remains wary that contributions to the Clinton charity could pose conflicts of interest. But, he added, he wouldn't stand in the way of her appointment at this point and noted that Clinton could become one of the nation's best secretaries of State to date.

Her departure from the Senate has been closely watched because it would give New York Gov. David Paterson, a fellow Democrat, the power to appoint her successor. Caroline Kennedy, the scion of a political dynasty, wants the job.

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