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Burns confirmed as CIA director as U.S. faces diverse international threats

The approval came soon after Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas lifted a hold he had placed on the nomination.
William Burns, nominee for CIA director, testifies during his Senate confirmation hearing on Feb. 24, 2021.
William Burns, nominee for CIA director, testifies during his Senate confirmation hearing on Feb. 24, 2021.Tom Williams / Pool via Getty Images file
/ Source: Associated Press

The Senate on Thursday confirmed without opposition veteran diplomat William Burns as director of the CIA, giving him control of the nation's premier spy agency as the U.S. government confronts a diverse array of international threats from China, Russia, Iran and elsewhere.

The approval, by voice vote, came soon after Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas lifted a hold he had placed on the nomination.

Burns, a former ambassador to Russia and Jordan who served at the State Department for more than 30 years under both Democratic and Republican presidents, vowed at his confirmation hearing last month that he would deliver “unvarnished” intelligence to the White House.

Burns was warmly received by Republicans at that hearing, but his confirmation was held up by Cruz, who demanded sharp condemnation from the Biden administration of a new gas pipeline from Russia that is strongly opposed in the U.S. and Eastern Europe.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement calling the pipeline, Nord Stream 2, “a bad deal for Germany, for Ukraine, and for our Central and Eastern European allies and partners.” Cruz subsequently lifted his hold.