The Senate voted 78-20 to confirm Linda Thomas-Greenfield as ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday.
Thomas-Greenfield is a veteran diplomat who rose through the foreign service and served as head of African affairs at the State Department from 2013 through 2017. During her service, Thomas-Greenfield oversaw the U.S. response to the Ebola epidemic.
Republicans have expressed skepticism of Thomas-Greenfield over an October 2019 speech on the relationship between China and the African continent. The speech was delivered at a Confucius institute at Savannah State University, and the Trump administration later designated the network of institutes as a “foreign mission.”
“This nominee has spent years minimizing the threat of China’s actions in Africa and has spoken repeatedly in favor, in favor, of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which is a transparent ploy to spread Chinese Communist influence into other countries,” Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) said in a statement. Cotton was one of the 20 senators to oppose Thomas-Greenfield’s confirmation.
Thomas-Greenfield said during her hearing that delivering the speech was a “huge mistake.”
“I do regret that speech,” Thomas-Greenfield said in January. “But if you look at what I have done prior to that, there is no question that I am not at all naïve about what the Chinese are doing and I have called them out on a regular basis, including today.”
Thomas-Greenfield also compared China’s treatment of its Uyghur citizens to the genocide in Rwanda in the early 1990’s, which she observed as a diplomat in the capital city of Kigali.