January 24, 2013

Sen. Kaine Announces Support for Sen. Kerry Following Confirmation Hearing

Questioning included discussion of issues facing the Western Hemisphere, religious freedom and Israel

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine today participated in the confirmation hearing of Secretary of State nominee Senator John Kerry, his second hearing with the Foreign Relations Committee. Following the hearing, Kaine announced his support for Kerry’s nomination based on his strong qualifications and distinguished record.

“I look forward to casting my vote for Senator Kerry to be our next Secretary of State,” Kaine said following the hearing. “His decades of service in the Senate and expertise in foreign policy make him a well-suited candidate for this post and an admirable example of America’s values on the world stage.”

During the hearing, Kaine noted the potential for improved diplomatic relations and increased economic activity in the Western Hemisphere and urged Kerry to continue the administration’s commitment to seizing opportunities in this region.

In his questioning, Kaine asked Kerry for his thoughts on America’s commitment to freedom of religion for people across the globe, specifically citing Kerry’s work on behalf of the Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng.

“You and I share a faith background and we also share a commitment to that bedrock American principle that all should be able to worship as they please, or not, without official pressure or punishment or preference,” said Kaine. “Whether it’s marginalization of Muslims in Europe, repression of Christians or Baha'is in the Middle East, or anti-Semitism anywhere, the U.S. has a valuable role to play, and the State Department does as well, in the protection of religious minorities.”

In response, Kerry said, “I couldn’t agree more and I’m glad you raised that issue. It’s at the core of who we are. Our tolerance on which the U.S. is founded is one of our greatest attributes.” He went on to call religious freedom an “essential ingredient” for a country to grow and develop.

Additionally, Kaine reiterated his commitment to the “unbreakable bond” between the United States and Israel and expressed hope that Kerry would continue to pursue peace between a secure Jewish state of Israel and an independent, prosperous state of Palestine.

A vote will be held in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Kerry’s confirmation in the coming week.