Clinton Enjoys Warms Reception

Posted January 13, 2009 at 1:03pm

Secretary of State appointee Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) enjoyed a collegial confirmation hearing this morning before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where even the most conservative committee members hailed the New York Senator’s nomination.

Committee Members aired only a few concerns about Clinton’s involvement with her husband’s foundation, and whether the nonprofit entity would continue accepting foreign donations once the Senator is confirmed to her Cabinet post. Ranking member Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) floated a list of disclosure rules for the foundation to follow, but added that Clinton’s prior involvement with it should not trip up her confirmation.

“I share the President-elect’s view that the activities of the Clinton Foundation and President Clinton himself should not be a barrier to Sen. Clinton’s service,” Lugar said.

Clinton is the latest to benefit from Senators’ long-standing tradition of easily confirming their own to administration jobs. Obama has tapped two current Senators and one former Senator to serve in his Cabinet, and each is expected to enjoy a smooth confirmation.

Health and Human Services Secretary appointee Tom Daschle — the former Democratic Majority Leader — was showered with adoration during his confirmation hearing last week, and Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) is likely to win similar praise during his upcoming Senate hearings to be secretary of Interior.

“I am optimistic and hopeful of your role as secretary of State,” said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), one of the chamber’s most conservative members. “Despite news accounts that I’m going to ask questions about your relationships, I have no doubt about your integrity.”

Praise for the former First Lady came from both sides of the aisle. Topics of questions from the panel ranged from troop redeployment in Iraq to climate change to genocide in Darfur.

Prior to the hearing, Clinton met privately with nearly every member of the Foreign Relations Committee and submitted answers to nearly 160 lawmaker questions.

While secretary of State appointees often go through several days of questioning before being confirmed, Tuesday was Clinton’s only scheduled day to appear before the committee. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the panel’s newly installed chairman, has not yet scheduled a vote on the nomination , but Senate Democrats have said they plan to install Obama’s Cabinet nominees as quickly as possible.