Linda Thomas-Greenfield Confirmed by Senate as Biden’s UN Envoy

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The Senate confirmed Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, overcoming Republican complaints that she had been too deferential to China in a 2019 speech given at a Beijing-sponsored institute.

Thomas-Greenfield, a career diplomat with experience across four continents and as a former assistant secretary of state for African affairs, was approved Tuesday by a vote of 78-20.

“Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield has the expertise, the strength, and the character to deliver on these priorities: to stand up to the challenges we face from China, to regain U.S. leverage and influence in the Security Council, to re-engage our allies and hold Iran accountable, and to stand firm when Israel is subject to biased attacks,” Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez said on Monday.

With her confirmation, President Joe Biden’s national security team is now largely in place as it faces challenges from resuming nuclear negotiations with Iran to restoring trust with allies and confronting an emboldened China and Russia. She also contributes to Biden’s pledge for a diverse administration as a Black woman who will have cabinet status.

Thomas-Greenfield has pledged to restore U.S. diplomacy and multilateralism at the UN after the Trump administration’s “America First” approach. Over the past four years, the U.S. repeatedly clashed with the UN and its organizations, withdrawing from the Human Rights Council and the World Health Organization.

Speaking at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Thomas-Greenfield pledged to restore American leadership at the UN and said China is trying to drive “an authoritarian agenda that stands in opposition to the founding values of the institution -- American values.”

But Republican senators extracted statements of regret from the nominee for her speech to a China-funded Confucius Institute at Savannah State University in Georgia. She said she expressed too positive a view of Beijing’s role in Africa at the time.

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