Washington (AFP) - Kelly Craft won Senate confirmation Wednesday to be the next US ambassador to the United Nations, overcoming Democratic resistance after President Donald Trump tapped her for the high-profile post.
Craft has been serving as US ambassador to Canada, where she was involved in negotiations over a revised North American free trade pact.
She is married to a wealthy coal magnate, and Democrats have expressed concern that her family ties to the industry may influence policy at a time when they want the US economy to be turning towards new sources of power like renewable energy.
Last month during her confirmation hearings, she pledged to lawmakers that she would recuse herself from climate change talks involving coal at the global body, even as she stood by Trump's decision to pull the United States out of the UN-backed Paris climate accord.
But her declaration that she believed "both sides" of climate science raised eyebrows and indicated that she may be out of sync on the issue with the rest of the UN.
Democrats also voiced concern about her lack of relevant international and technical experience for such an important and demanding position.
In a recently released minority report, Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrote that Craft "has neither the experience nor the skillset to represent US interests or challenge the world's most seasoned diplomats on the global stage."
Craft, 57, has been a major Republican donor, and her husband Joe Craft donated $1 million to Trump's 2017 inauguration fund, according to political funding tracker Open Secrets.
She replaces Trump's first UN ambassador Nikki Haley, who left at the end of last year as her star power was growing within the Republican Party.
Trump chose State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, a former Fox News anchor, to succeed her, but the nomination was never formally submitted and Nauert withdrew from consideration.