The vote was 94-3, with Republican Senators John Cornyn, Ted Cruz and James Inhofe voting no. Kerry voted present on his own nomination.
Earlier in the day he received the nod of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The panel approved his nomination unanimously by a voice vote.
Kerry, the longtime senator from Massachusetts and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, has served on the committee for decades and was the panel’s chairman the past four years.
President Barack Obama last month nominated Kerry to succeed outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the country’s top diplomat.
In a statement, he said, “I am pleased that the Senate has confirmed John Kerry as our next secretary of state with overwhelming bipartisan support. From his decorated service in Vietnam to his decades in the Senate as a champion of American global leadership, John’s distinguished career has prepared him to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead.
“John has earned the respect of leaders around the world and the confidence of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, and I am confident he will make an extraordinary secretary of state,” Obama continued. “I look forward to his counsel and partnership in the years ahead as we ensure American leadership in the world and advance the interests and values that keep our nation strong.”
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who will appoint a temporary successor to the seat, said in a statement that he thanks “Senator Kerry for his decades of service to the people of Massachusetts.
“From his days as lieutenant governor to his nearly thirty years in the United States Senate, he has been our steadfast champion,” Patrick said. “I know that he will bring the dedication, intelligence, and passion to his new role that he brought to representing Massachusetts. We are sad to lose him as our senator, but excited about and grateful for his service to the nation on the international stage.”
Democrat Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts freshman who becomes the state’s senior senator with his resignation, said, “John Kerry is a true statesman, and he will be an extraordinary Secretary of State. His experience as a Navy lieutenant, veteran, prosecutor, Lieutenant Governor, Senator, and Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee uniquely qualifies him to represent the people of the United States around the world. I was proud to cast my vote – and I am excited to call him Mr. Secretary.”
Decmoratic Rep. Ed Markey, the only declared candidate so far for Kerry’s seat, praised him, saying: “Americans can be confident that John Kerry is the most qualified, knowledgeable, and passionate person to represent our interests around the world. Going from Hillary Clinton to John Kerry at the State Department is like the Red Sox going from Ted Williams to Carl Yastrzemski, both possessing hall of fame talent and passion for the job.
Kerry has served in the U.S. Senate since 1984.
Kerry’s confirmation makes him the first new member of Obama’s second-term cabinet to be installed. Obama has also nominated candidates to lead the departments of defense and treasury.