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Kerry Bounces Back, Hones Diplomatic Role

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call

But ask Kerry a question about politics, particularly any plans he might have to help Democrats oust top target Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in 2012, and he is likely to demur, explaining that his intention this year is to focus on policy. That has included widening the purview of the Foreign Relations Committee, which he has served on during his 26 years in the Senate. Vice President Joseph Biden’s election paved the way for Kerry to become chairman.

Under Kerry, Foreign Relations has incorporated “global climate change” and “economic security and competitiveness” into its policy portfolio. The chairman also established a new investigative unit within the committee to allow the panel to conduct its own review of critical foreign policy matters. Kerry has spearheaded oversight of U.S. relations with Afghanistan and Pakistan while also working to streamline the ability to ratify treaties with allies such as Australia and the United Kingdom.

Kerry’s recent travels have taken him to Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan and Sudan. In separate interviews, Menendez and Senate Armed Services ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.) attributed Kerry’s success to his work ethic, depth of knowledge, bipartisanship and the respect he commands among his Senate colleagues. Menendez volunteered that Kerry’s victory in pushing START through the Senate was “John Kerry at his best.”

McCain, who collaborated with Kerry on the bipartisan Libya resolution and previous legislation addressing the change in power in Egypt, lauded the Senator’s work even as he acknowledged their differences. McCain said Kerry’s performance was the most he could have hoped for from a Democrat, given their obvious disagreements on key foreign policy and national security issues.

“We have a number of commonalities,” said McCain, who is more hawkish than the diplomatically inclined Kerry. “John and I have our differences, which are spirited but sort of like mine with [Kennedy]. We have our spirited discussions but overall we work together on a lot of issues.”

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