Senate confirms Arizona’s Cindy McCain, Jeff Flake to ambassador posts

Oct 26, 2021, 3:00 PM | Updated: 9:44 pm
The U.S. Senate confirmed Jeff Flake, left, as ambassador to Turkey and Cindy McCain as representat...
The U.S. Senate confirmed Jeff Flake, left, as ambassador to Turkey and Cindy McCain as representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture on Oct. 26, 2021. (Getty Images File Photos)
(Getty Images File Photos)

PHOENIX – The U.S. Senate confirmed two Arizona Republicans, Cindy McCain and Jeff Flake, to ambassador posts in the Biden administration on Tuesday.

In voice votes, the Senate approved Flake as ambassador to Turkey and McCain as representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture.

“Honored to be confirmed by my former colleagues in a bipartisan manner,” Flake said in a tweet.

President Joe Biden announced his plans to nominate McCain on June 23 and Flake on July 13.

Flake and McCain both crossed party lines last year to endorse Biden’s effort to unseat Donald Trump.

Flake served in the U.S. Senate from Arizona from 2013 to 2019 and in the U.S. House from 2001 to 2013.

He retired from the Senate at the end of his term in 2019, saying he was out of step with the Republican Party in the Trump era.

McCain’s late husband, longtime U.S. Sen. John McCain, was good friends with Biden despite their political differences. Biden delivered a eulogy at McCain’s funeral in 2018.

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona said McCain was a good choice for the role.

“Cindy McCain’s leadership at the world’s stage will make Arizona—and America—proud,” Sinema said in a statement. “Ambassador McCain is a demonstrated humanitarian, civic leader and a terrific choice to represent America’s work with the United Nations combatting famine and hunger crises around the world.”

The Agencies for Food and Agriculture is a segment of the UN that consists of the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme.

The Senate also voted to confirm former Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico to serve as ambassador to New Zealand and Victoria Reggie Kennedy of Massachusetts, the widow of former Sen. Ted Kennedy, to serve as ambassador to Austria.

The nominations were approved through voice vote, a process taking only minutes that can be used so long as no senators object. Republicans, led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, are requiring the vast majority of Biden’s other State Department nominees to go through a much more extensive and time-consuming process.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., thanked senators for acting quickly on the four nominations, but said he remains concerned about the overall pace of confirmations for the president’s diplomatic corps.

“There are dozens of countries where there is no confirmed American ambassador, and I hope that this moment of progress will be a predictor of other progress to come soon,” Coons said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Senate confirms Arizona’s Cindy McCain, Jeff Flake to ambassador posts