July 25, 2019 / 3:34 PM / 2 months ago

U.S. Senate committee backs Trump nominee to be U.N. ambassador

FILE PHOTO: Kelly Craft testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on her nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on Capitol Hill in Washington U.S., June 19, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday backed Kelly Craft, currently the U.S. ambassador to Canada, as President Donald Trump’s envoy to the United Nations.

The vote was 15-7 in favor of Craft, a top Republican donor from Kentucky who was criticized by some Democrats for lacking experience and spending much of her time leading the embassy in Ottawa from her homes in Kentucky and Oklahoma rather than in Canada.

Senator Bob Menendez, the committee’s ranking Democrat, said he felt Craft lacked the “seriousness and professionalism” to represent the United States at the world body. He said she had spent 356 days out of her 21 months as ambassador to Canada outside of the country.

Craft’s backers said she was a tough negotiator on a new U.S. trade deal with Canada and Mexico and as ambassador to Canada established decent working relationships with both Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

Trump’s first U.N. ambassador, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, left the position in late 2018.

Craft must still be confirmed by the full Senate. A date for that vote has not been announced.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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