Kerry Can’t Do It All: Picking Someone to Preside

Photograph by Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) nominated Senator John Kerry to be the next secretary of state, at the White House on Dec. 21, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

President Barack Obama joked about a procedural quirk that lies ahead when he chose Senator John Kerry as his nominee for secretary of state.

“I guess you won’t be able to actually appear and preside at the same time,” Obama told the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during the White House announcement on Dec. 21. “So we’ll have to figure out how that works.”

The way it works is that Chairman Kerry of Massachusetts will designate one of his fellow Democrats on the panel to lead the questioning of nominee Kerry. It may not be a particular arduous task considering that colleagues of both parties have praised Obama for picking Kerry.

Senator Barbara Boxer of California may be picked to preside because she’s next in line by seniority. It’s also possible Boxer would defer to Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, who would become chairman if Boxer doesn’t intend to take the post upon Kerry’s likely confirmation.

Boxer may choose to stay where she is — chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, a panel that’s a good fit for her eco-friendly state.


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