Kerry, a Vietnam veteran and later anti-war demonstrator, was the Democratic nominee for president in 2004. He has led the Foreign Relations panel for the last four years, and he has already served as an emissary for the administration on diplomatic missions to such global hot spots as Afghanistan and Pakistan.
During his confirmation hearing last week, Kerry voiced support for Obamaís scaled-back plans for his administrationís diplomatic presence and assistance levels in Afghanistan after 2014, when all NATO combat troops are scheduled to depart. Kerry also said he backs the presidentís cautious approach in Syria, advocating a political solution to the conflict there that would ease President Bashar al-Assad from power without plunging the country into sectarian violence.
Kerry also assured lawmakers that the administrationís policy on countering a nuclear Iran ďis not containmentĒ but prevention, and he pushed for policies to counter global warming and to restore the nationís fiscal footing as a means of bolstering U.S. leadership abroad.
Emily Cadei and Joshua Miller contributed to this report.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.