Following Donald Trump’s diplomatic estrangement and isolationist agenda, Joe Biden’s choice to serve as ambassador to the United Nations will step into role in the face of twin crises – a growing climate crisis and a Covid-19 pandemic still raging – after its confirmation in the Senate.
The Senate confirmed Linda Thomas-Greenfield as the country’s ambassador to the UN by a 78-20 vote on Tuesday, days before she assumed the rotating leadership of the institution’s powerful Security Council in March.
She will be sworn in on Wednesday before heading to New York to meet with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
The career diplomat previously served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the Office of African Affairs at the Department of State from 2013 to 2017 under President Barack Obama. She resigned from the administration after Mr. Trump was elected and his purge of senior State Department officials.
Read more:Follow live updates from the Biden administration
She will be the third African-American woman and the second African-American woman to step into the role.
A dozen cabinet-level appointments have not been confirmed, including Mr Biden’s choice for Attorney General Merrick Garland and Budget Office Director Neera Tanden, who could face strong opposition from the part critical Republicans and Democrats in the decisive Senate vote.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration was confident it got the votes for its confirmation.
“There is a candidate to head the budget department – her name is Neera Tanden,” she told reporters on Tuesday.
“She has had 44 meetings now with senators from both parties,” Psaki said. “She’s committed to rolling up her sleeves, having these conversations, answering these questions as they arise, reiterating her commitment to working with people across the aisle.” and share their work experience with people with different points of view. ”
Ms Thomas-Greenfield – who grew up in segregated Louisiana – has championed what she calls “okra diplomacy” during her 35-year foreign service career, she said after her appointment in November.
“The challenges we face – a global pandemic, a global economy, a global crisis of climate change, massive migration and extreme poverty, social justice – are relentless and interconnected, but they are not unsolvable if the America is leading the way, ”she said. at the time.
She is committed to upholding human rights and restoring America’s international reputation for defending democracy abroad, she told senators.
Several Republicans examined Ms. Thomas-Greenfield’s words during a speech on “China-US-Africa relations” in 2019.
She said she regretted the appearance, as part of an event sponsored by an educational institute funded by the Chinese Communist Party. It was part of a series of lectures at Savannah State University sponsored by the Confucius Institute.
Last month, she called China a “strategic adversary” whose “actions threaten our security, they threaten our values and they threaten our way of life, they pose a threat to their neighbors and they pose a threat across the country. world”.
Tom Vilsack, who served as agriculture secretary in the Obama administration, will resume his post after his confirmation in the Senate on Tuesday.
He will take office with a massive food insecurity crisis during the pandemic and its economic fallout, as the president aims to boost food aid and more than $ 2 billion in aid to farmers retained by the former president.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us to contain the pandemic, transform the American food system, create fairer markets for producers, ensure fairness and remove systemic barriers, develop new income opportunities through smart practices. climate, improve access to healthy and nutritious food. , and make historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy in rural America, ”he said in a statement after the vote.
Congresswoman Deb Haaland – believed to be the first Indigenous woman to hold a cabinet post as Mr Biden’s choice to lead the Home Office – faced opposition from some Republicans during the the first of two hearings ahead of his confirmation of what they called his “split” in his support for climate justice, indigenous rights and his opposition to fracking.
In her remarks on Tuesday, she said she wanted to prioritize clean energy jobs, improve broadband internet in rural areas and draw attention to the high rates of missing and murdered indigenous women.
‘Gumbo diplomacy’: Biden’s ambassador to the United Nations brings ‘Lagniappe’ to the world stage
Trump, Sessions, Grenell: Critics say Senate wasn’t worried about nasty tweets until Neera Tanden
Fossil fuel pro senators surround themselves with first Native American candidate for cabinet, calling her a ‘divisive source’