WASHINGTON • South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has been confirmed to become the next United States ambassador to the United Nations, placing a rising Republican political star in charge of advancing President Donald Trump's agenda in an institution whose effectiveness he has questioned.
She will step down from her post in South Carolina to assume one of the nation's highest-profile diplomatic jobs - one that would burnish her resume for higher office later.
Mrs Haley, who has no formal diplomatic experience, won significant Democratic support with a vote of 96-4, reflecting some Democrats' view that she will be a sensible diplomat and speak her mind in the new administration.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee had approved her nomination by voice vote on Tuesday.
She won praise from Democrats during her confirmation hearing last week, where she freely aired disagreements with Mr Trump on some policy matters and said the new President would welcome a range of views.
Mrs Haley, who was critical of Mr Trump as a candidate, voiced heavy scepticism about Russia and optimism about Nato, both deviations from some of Mr Trump's statements. She rejected the idea of a Muslim registry or ban, which Mr Trump has never fully disavowed.
She said she is comfortable with Mr Trump's "American first" approach and would reassert the traditional role of the US in recent decades of protecting Israel from UN action it considers biased.
She also declared her support for moving the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a shift that Arab leaders have said could ignite violence in the Middle East.
At her Jan 18 hearing, Mrs Haley questioned the priorities and effectiveness of the world body, which Mr Trump has called a toothless debating society, but said she intends to "fix" what does not work.
"I have no problem calling people out," Mrs Haley said.
The UN is "often at odds with American national interests and American taxpayers", she said, adding she would use the "leverage" of potential cuts in US funding to demand reform.
"We contribute 22 per cent of the UN's budget, far more than any other country. We are a generous nation," Mrs Haley said. "But we must ask ourselves... Are we getting what we pay for?"
Mrs Haley is best known nationally for her handling of the 2015 racially motivated killings of black worshippers at a historic Charleston church, for which she got generally high marks.
She spoke at memorials and encouraged the removal of the Confederate flag from the state Capitol grounds.
Separately, Dr Ben Carson, a retired surgeon and 2016 Republican presidential contender, was confirmed to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Two other nominees also won approval: billionaire Wilbur Ross, a private equity investor to lead the Commerce Department, and Ms Elaine Chao to head the Transportation Department.
Ms Chao, a former labour secretary who served eight years in president George W. Bush's Cabinet, is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
WASHINGTON POST, BLOOMBERG