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.

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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.

Disclosure: The author of this article briefly worked for Kay Bailey Hutchison more than a decade ago.

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • Former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas told a panel of  Senate lawmakers on Thursday that she will take a hard line on Russia if she is confirmed as ambassador to NATO. She appears to be on track for confirmation. [Full story]

  • President Trump has nominated former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to be the nation's new NATO ambassador. [Full story]

  • Former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, under consideration for the NATO ambassadorship, played a key role in shepherding U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson through his Senate confirmation. [Full story]

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