The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Richard Grenell as the next U.S. ambassador to Germany, following a confirmation process that was drawn out over Democratic concerns about his past public remarks.
Grenell was confirmed by a vote of 56 to 42 that broke largely along party lines. Only six Democratic senators — Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Jon Tester of Montana, Doug Jones of Alabama, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana — voted to confirm, and all 42 nay votes were cast by Democrats.
The vote makes Grenell the highest ranking openly gay person to serve in a Republican administration.
Grenell has extensive experience in the diplomatic world, having served as a spokesman under four U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations, including John Bolton, the newly appointed national security advisor. More recently, he has worked as a public relations consultant, columnist and Fox News contributor.
The Senate vote was delayed earlier this week as several Democrats expressed concerns over Grenell’s past comments about women. He had come under fire for making remarks about the appearance of several prominent women, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former first lady Michelle Obama, that some found to be sexist.
During his confirmation hearing in September, Grenell said he meant the comments as jokes, but that he did regret them in hindsight.
“There are times where what was intended to be humorous turned out to be not so humorous,” Grenell told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September. “When you are speaking as a U.S. official, it’s not your opinion that you are pushing but it’s a well-thought-out U.S. policy.”
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Grenell’s nomination enjoyed broad support among Republican politicians and conservative activists. Despite the historic potential of his confirmation, however, only two LGBT groups, the Log Cabin Republicans and the Harvey Milk Foundation, supported his nomination.
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