John Kerry urged Congress to fix the U.S. economy to ensure the country’s role as a world leader and pledged to keep pressure on Iran at a Senate hearing on Thursday that left little doubt he will win easy confirmation as secretary of state.
The five-term U.S. senator and Vietnam War veteran said the “first priority” in protecting his credibility as a diplomat was the country’s ability to get its fiscal house in order.
“Foreign policy is economic policy,” Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he has chaired for the last four years. “It is urgent that we show people in the rest of the world that we can get our business done in an effective and timely way.”
President Barack Obama nominated Kerry last month to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, one of the most popular and visible members of his Cabinet.
The Massachusetts senator was praised by Republicans as well his fellow Democrats during the 3-1/2 hour hearing. Republicans in particular said they appreciated his calls for fiscal order.
“I look at you, in being nominated for this, as someone who has almost led their entire life, if you will, for this moment, being able to serve in this capacity,” said Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top Republican on the panel.
“For a moment I was wishing you had been nominated for secretary of the treasury,” Corker quipped.
“You will need no introduction to the world’s political and military leaders, and will begin - on Day One - fully conversant not only with the intricacies of U.S. policy, but with an understanding of the nuanced approach necessary,” said Senator Robert Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat presiding over the hearing for the committee.