On the Hill

Blinken confirmed as secretary of state despite some GOP opposition

Many of the Republicans who voted against Blinken’s confirmation cited his position on Iran

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Then-Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken speaks at the White House in 2014.

The Senate confirmed Secretary of State Tony Blinken Tuesday afternoon by a vote of 78-22, the closest vote thus far for any of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominees.

Nearly half of the Republican caucus opposed Blinken’s confirmation, with many citing both his and the Biden administration’s approach to Iran as primary reasons for their votes.

“What’s clear from Blinken’s desire to reenter a nuclear deal with Iran is that he did not learn from the many foreign policy blunders of the Obama years,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) said in a statement to Jewish Insider. “We need accountability and clear thinking, not a retread of Obama’s failed foreign policy.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who has been critical of the new administration’s emerging policy on Iran, echoed those views.

“The policies that Mr. Blinken has committed to implementing as secretary of state, especially regarding Iran, will dangerously erode America’s national security and will put the Biden administration on a collision course with Congress, and I could not support his confirmation,” Cruz said in a public statement. Cruz told JI last week ahead of a private meeting with the then-nominee that he believed Blinken’s statements on Iran reflected “naivete.”

A spokesman for Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) also cited Blinken’s positions on Middle East policy as one of the senator’s reasons for voting against the nomination, in a statement to JI.

“Senator Lee maintains significant reservations about Mr. Blinken’s approach to U.S. involvement in the Middle East, his blanket deference to multilateral organizations and agreements, and a posture that limits Article I input in foreign policy decisions where constitutionally required,” the spokesman said, referring to the U.S. Constitution’s system of checks and balances between the executive and Congress.

Also on Tuesday, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee voted 7-5 to advance Homeland Security Secretary-designate Alejandro Mayorkas’s confirmation to a full Senate vote. Two Republicans, Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Rob Portman (R-OH), voted with the panel’s five Democrats in favor of Mayorkas. 

Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), the incoming committee chair, told reporters after the committee vote that Senate Democrats are working to set a date for Mayorkas’s confirmation vote.