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Former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison Confirmed As NATO Ambassador

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, nominee to be U.S. ambassador to NATO, attends her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building on July 20, 2017.

WASHINGTON — Members of the U.S. Senate confirmed a former colleague, Kay Bailey Hutchison, as its new ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. 

In this role, Hutchison will represent the United States at NATO headquarters in Belgium. 

“Kay has always been known for tireless advocacy on behalf of Texans and her ability to work across the aisle to get things done,” U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said in a statement. “She has the experience, determination, and poise to strengthen our relationships on the world stage, and I’m confident she’ll make Texas – and our country – proud.”

NATO was created after World War II to counter Soviet influence in Europe. Hutchison will assume this position at an increasingly tense period in the United States' relationship with Russia.

Just last week, Congress passed sanctions against Russia for interfering in the 2016 election. President Donald Trump, who appointed Hutchison, signed the sanctions bill — but had he not, he likely would have faced a veto override. Trump has actively cultivated a friendly relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a special counsel is investigating whether members of his campaign colluded with Russian intelligence during the 2016 campaign. 

Hutchison, who represented Texas in the U.S. Senate from 1993 until 2013, reassured senators in her confirmation hearing that she would counter Russian aggression in this new role.

In other business, the Senate confirmed Dallas businessman Ray Washburne, a longtime GOP fundraiser, to serve as president of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a government agency that directs private capital into the developing world.

The Senate moved these nominations as the final votes of the summer as members were heading home for the August recess.

The Texas Tribune provided this story.

Abby Livingston joined the Tribune in 2014 as the publication's first Washington Bureau Chief. Previously, she covered political campaigns, House leadership and Congress for Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper. A seventh-generation Texan, Abby graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. She grew up in Fort Worth and has appeared in an episode of "The Bold and The Beautiful." Abby pitched and produced political segments for CNN and worked as an editor for The Hotline, National Journal’s campaign tipsheet. Abby began her journalism career as a desk assistant at NBC News in Washington, working her way up to the political unit, where she researched stories for Nightly News, the Today Show and Meet the Press. In keeping with the Trib’s great history of hiring softball stars, Abby is a three-time MVP (the most in game history —Ed.) for The Bad News Babes, the women’s press softball team that takes on female members of Congress in the annual Congressional Women’s Softball breast cancer charity game.