Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate confirms Antony Blinken as secretary of state

Photo of Anthony Blinken speaking into a microphone while gesturing

Antony Blinken. Photo: Alex Edelman/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate voted 78-22 on Tuesday to confirm Antony Blinken as secretary of state.

Why it matters: Blinken, a longtime adviser to President Biden, will lead the administration's diplomatic efforts to re-engage with the world after four years of former President Trump's "America first" policy.

Background: Blinken is a French-speaker and step-son of a Holocaust survivor whose stories he credits with shaping his worldview. Like Biden, Blinken is a committed multilateralist and advocate for the United States as a leading force for good in the world.

  • Blinken served in the Obama administration as deputy national security adviser from 2013 to 2015 and deputy secretary of state from 2015 to 2017.
  • He was Biden's top aide on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee over 15 years ago.
  • He started his career at the State Department in the Clinton administration.

Key quotes from Blinken's testimony:

  • "Humility and confidence should be the flip sides of America's leadership coin. Humility because we have a great deal of work to do at home to enhance our standing abroad ... But we'll also act with confidence that America at its best still has a greater ability than any country on earth to mobilize others for the greater good."
  • "We're as a general rule much better off being at the table than being outside the room if we're going to try and influence those institutions and organizations and move them in a better direction."
  • "We have to start by approaching China from a position of strength, not weakness, a position of strength when we are working with, not denigrating, our allies ... a position of strength when we are engaged and leading in international institutions, not pulling back and ceding the terrain to China to write the rules and norms that animate those institutions."

The big picture: Blinken is the fourth Biden Cabinet nominee to be confirmed, following Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

Go deeper: What has and hasn't changed as Biden takes over U.S. foreign policy

Go deeper