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Senate panel backs Power as US envoy to UN

US President Barack Obama (L) listens as former aide Samantha Power speaks at an event in Washington, on June 5, 2013
US President Barack Obama (L) listens as former aide Samantha Power speaks at an event in Washington, on June 5, 2013. Obama's pick to serve as envoy to the United Nations earned approval Tuesday from a key Senate panel, paving the way for her expected co

President Barack Obama's pick to serve as envoy to the United Nations earned approval Tuesday from a key Senate panel, paving the way for her expected confirmation by the chamber.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted overwhelmingly in support of Samantha Power, a genocide expert and human rights champion, to be Obama's ambassador to the global body.

Power enjoys broad bipartisan support and is expected to sail through to confirmation.

But she raised the ire of Venezuela during the confirmation process last week when she told a hearing she would stand up to "repressive regimes" and challenge the "crackdown on civil society" in the oil-rich South American nation.

In response, Venezuela late Friday said it has "ended" its rapprochement with the United States, slamming what it called her "interventionist agenda."

Senators made no mention of the Venezuela row in Tuesday's committee meeting.

Power, 42, would replace Susan Rice, who leaves under a cloud for her role in the administration's public explanation for the deadly attack on the US mission in Libya last September 11 that left four Americans dead including the ambassador there.

Power herself has come under criticism for a number of remarks she made a decade ago, including speaking of "crimes committed" by the US government.

Senator Marco Rubio was one of two lawmakers to vote against her on the 18-member panel.

"She failed to distance herself from these statements at the hearing and offered insufficient explanation, leaving me with serious concerns about some of her views," Rubio said.