North Korea expert and diplomatic troubleshooter Wendy Sherman was confirmed Thursday as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, the number three position at the State Department.
Sherman previously served in the Clinton administration as State Department counselor under Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs under the late then Secretary of State Warren Christopher, and as special adviser to President Bill Clinton on North Korea.
Sherman, most recently vice chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group, has recently chaired the board of Oxfam America. From 1991 to 1993, she headed Emily's List. From 1996 until 1997, she also served as president and CEO of the Fannie Mae Foundation. She served as co-chair of the Obama-Biden transition team overseeing the State Department.
Her nomination to be "P" was confirmed by a unanimous consent motion Thursday, Senate staff were notified.
Her predecessor in the role (overseeing the U.S. diplomatic corps and conducting high-level diplomacy) is Bill Burns, who was recently promoted to Deputy Secretary of State. Burns was traveling in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week ahead of the UN General Assembly opening session in New York next week.
The Senate Foreign Relations panel voted this week to forward for consideration by the full Senate three recess-appointed U.S.ambassadors--ambassador to the Czech Republic Norm Eisen; ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone, and ambassador to Syria Robert Ford. Previously blocked by Republicans critical of placing an envoy in Damascus, Ford has impressed many across the political spectrum with his efforts to give moral support to Syrians confronting a brutal regime crackdown that has killed more than 2,500 people since March. Most recently, by attending a funeral this week for a slain, pacifist, pro-democracy activist. (Also forwarded this week by the panel was Obama's nominee to be ambassador to Armenia, John Heffern.)
Diplomatic sources suggest those confirmations, if they happen, will also likely be by unanimous consent motions filed in the next rush for senators to get out before a non-recess.