The US Senate has backed Kelly Craft as President Donald Trump's envoy to the United Nations. Critics say she's far too inexperienced for the key diplomatic post, which was vacated by Nikki Haley at the end of last year.
The US Senate confirmed Kelly Craft as the new ambassador to the United Nations on Wednesday, despite fierce opposition from some Democrats.
Lawmakers voted 56-34 largely along party lines to approve the appointment.
Craft, a Republican Party donor from the state of Kentucky, is currently the US ambassador to Canada. She replaces Nikki Haley, who resigned as envoy to the UN seven months ago.
Craft, 57, will be the first major political donor to fill the high-profile UN post.
Climate change contradictions
US President Donald Trump announced Craft as his pick for the job in February, after his first choice, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, withdrew from consideration.
Craft's appointment has angered some Democrats, who argue she lacks experience and has potential conflicts of interest. She is the wife of billionaire coal mining baron Joe Craft, and critics have raised concerns that her family ties to the fossil fuel industry could sway policy.
Craft's supporters, however, describe her as a capable negotiator who fostered cooperation during recent trade talks between the US, Mexico and Canada.
Craft has previously sparked controversy by stating that she believed "both sides" of the climate change debate. But during her confirmation hearing last month, she acknowledged that there was a "vast amount of science" on the role humans have played in driving climate change. She also pledged to recuse herself from UN talks on the issue because of her husband's business connections.
'Underqualified' to represent the US
Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, accused Craft of lacking the "seriousness and professionalism" needed to represent and defend the US at the world body.
"Never in our nation's history have we nominated such an underqualified person to this critical post," Menendez said.
On Wednesday, he released a report that said Craft had spent the majority of her tenure as ambassador to Canada outside of the country.
Craft has said that all of her travel was approved by the State Department, and that much of it was work-related.
Craft said that as ambassador to the UN she would continue Haley's efforts to fight against anti-Israel resolutions and push for reform at the world body. She also faces the challenging task of defending Trump's "America First" strategy while getting diplomats to back US policies.
nm/se (AP, Reuters, dpa)