US Senate Confirms Biden UN Nominee Thomas-Greenfield

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed President Joe Biden’s nominee, veteran diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield, to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, adding a key member to his national security team nearly a month after her confirmation hearing.

The 100-member Senate backed Thomas-Greenfield by 78 to 20 to be Washington’s representative at the world body and a member of Biden’s Cabinet, comfortably exceeding the simple majority needed.

All of the no votes came from Republicans.

Thomas-Greenfield, 68, is a 35-year veteran of the Foreign Service who has served on four continents, most notably in Africa.

Republicans who opposed her nomination focused on a 2019 speech she gave that some said was favorable to Beijing. Thomas-Greenfield and her supporters pushed back, citing her decades as a diplomat seeking to increase U.S. influence and counteract China’s.

At her confirmation hearing in late January, she stressed the importance of U.S. re-engagement with the 193-member United Nations in order to challenge efforts by China to “drive an authoritarian agenda.”

China has been working to gain greater global influence in a challenge to traditional U.S. leadership, often by providing loans to developing nations in Africa and elsewhere that tie them closer to the Beijing government.

“Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield has a long history of expressed opposition to China’s use of debt trap tactics and its increasingly malign presence in world governance bodies,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said as he urged support.

Tension between the two superpowers hit a boiling point at the United Nations last year over the coronavirus pandemic, as then-President Donald Trump, a Republican, pulled the United States back from international organizations as part of his “America First” foreign policy agenda.

Biden, a Democrat, has stressed his support for multilateralism in foreign policy, not just by picking a veteran diplomat for the U.N. post, but restoring it to a Cabinet role.

By Patricia Zengerle