Kerry testifies before panel he chairs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. John Kerry, President Barack Obama's nominee for secretary of state, said today that the United States must get its fiscal house in order to lead worldwide, as lawmakers signaled his confirmation was a foregone conclusion.

"More than ever, foreign policy is economic policy," Kerry said in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

It was an odd juxtaposition. Kerry has served on the committee during his entire 28 years in the Senate and has chaired the panel for the last four. Today, he sat at the witness table, his voice cracking from emotion at times, facing his colleagues and friends.

Obama chose Kerry to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who introduced the senator.

"John is the right choice," Clinton told the panel. "He will bring a record of leadership and service that is exemplary."

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the incoming chairman who presided over the confirmation hearing, noted that Kerry was the first senator on the panel in a century to ascend to the Cabinet post. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the panel's ranking Republican, told Kerry, "you've almost lived your entire life for this moment."

In his testimony, Kerry stressed that the United States must thwart any Iranian ambition to develop a nuclear weapons, saying containment is not an option.

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