Senate Confirms Sen. John Kerry as Secretary of State

J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

ABC News' Sunlen Miller and Mary McGuire report:

By an overwhelming vote of 94-3, the Senate has confirmed Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to be the next Secretary of State.

The vote was met with a long round of applause from those in the Senate chamber for the 28-year Senate veteran. He appeared on the floor, greeted by hugs and congratulations from his fellow senators.

Voting against Kerry's nomination were Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and Texas Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

In a statement provided to ABC News, Drew Brandewie, a spokesman for Sen. Cornyn, said the senator decided after listening to Kerry's confirmation hearing that he could not offer his support.

"Sen. Kerry has a long history of liberal positions that are not consistent with a majority of Texans," Brandewie said in a statement.

Kerry voted "present," in the vote for his promotion. Kerry will take office in the shadow left by outgoing Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who was praised by President Obama as "one of the finest secretary of states we've had," on the TV show "60 Minutes" earlier this week.

Secretary Clinton's last day will be Feb. 1.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News' Cynthia McFadden today, Clinton commented on her successor's confirmation.

"Obviously, we've been working with him and his team to come into the State Department," Clinton told McFadden in an interview airing tonight on "Nightline." "I think he'll pick right up where I left off and represent us around the world."

Earlier this morning, by a unanimous voice vote, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed Sen. John Kerry's nomination to the full Senate for final confirmation. After that vote, Kerry made an appearance in the Foreign Relations Committee room to a round of applause from the committee he once chaired.

The senator, clearly touched by the moment, hugged members of the committee and said, "I am honored beyond words, and I mean that. … What a privilege."

He added that the "urgency of our efforts cannot be overstated," and said he looks forward to working with the committee in his new role.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., joked that the only person happier than Kerry was outgoing Clinton.

In Massachusetts, a special election to fill Kerry's Senate seat will take place on June 25, after primaries on April 30, Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin announced Monday. The only person formally declared as a candidate so far is Democratic Rep. Ed Markey of Malden, Mass.