The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed President Joe Biden’s nominee, veteran diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield, to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and added a key member to its national security team nearly a month after her confirmation hearing.
The Senate with 100 members supported Thomas-Greenfield by 78 to 20 to be Washington’s representative on the world body and a member of Biden’s cabinet, which conveniently surpasses the simple majority needed.
All no votes came from Republicans.
Thomas-Greenfield, 68, is a 35-year-old veteran of the Foreign Service who has served on four continents, particularly in Africa.
Republicans who opposed her nomination focused on a speech from 2019 that she thought some said was favorable to Beijing. Thomas-Greenfield and her supporters shot back and quoted her for decades as a diplomat who sought to increase US influence and counter China.
At her confirmation hearing in late January, she stressed the importance of US reunification with 193 UN members to challenge China’s efforts to “pursue an authoritarian agenda”.
China has worked to gain greater global influence in a challenge to traditional American leadership, often by lending to developing countries in Africa and elsewhere that tie them closer to Beijing’s governments.
“Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield has a long history of expressing opposition to China’s use of debt capture tactics and its increasingly malicious presence in world governing bodies,” said Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, when he called for support.
Tensions between the two superpowers reached a boiling point at the UN last year over the coronavirus pandemic, when then-President Donald Trump, a Republican, withdrew the United States from international organizations as part of his “America First” foreign policy agenda.
Biden, a Democrat, has emphasized his support for multilateralism in foreign policy, not only by electing a veteran diplomat to the UN post but also by restoring it to a cabinet role.