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Senate confirms Victoria Kennedy to be ambassador to Austria

The Boston Globe logo The Boston Globe 10/27/2021 Neya Thanikachalam
a person sitting in front of a curtain: Vicki Reggie Kennedy spoke during a 2019 dinner at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston. © Nic Antaya for The Boston Globe Vicki Reggie Kennedy spoke during a 2019 dinner at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston.

The Senate has confirmed Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of the late senator Edward M. Kennedy, to be the US ambassador to Austria, sending her to Vienna to continue a Kennedy family diplomatic tradition.

Kennedy, 67, senior counsel at the international law firm Greenberg Traurig and a close friend of President Biden, was confirmed in a voice vote Tuesday night along with three other diplomatic nominees, including Cindy McCain, the widow of the late senator John McCain, who will be the US representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture.

The Senate also confirmed former Republican senator Jeff Flake as ambassador to Turkey and former Democratic senator Tom Udall as ambassador to New Zealand and the independent state of Samoa. Udall replaces former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown, who left the post in December.

The US Embassy in Vienna announced on Twitter Wednesday morning that Kennedy had been confirmed and said the schedule for her arrival had not yet been set.

Biden nominated Kennedy in July. In addition to her work as a lawyer, she has served on the boards of charities and is a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where she chairs the education committee.

Kennedy also is a strong advocate for gun control and was the past president and founder of the nonprofit Common Sense About Kids and Guns, a coalition of gun control advocates, health professionals, and gun manufacturers working to reduce gun deaths and injuries among children.

“My parents and grandparents taught us through the example of their own lives how important it is to serve and give back. And my late husband, and his extended family, embodied the noblest qualities of service to country,” Kennedy said in a statement following her nomination. “I am humbled by the confidence the president has placed in me, and if confirmed, I look forward to being able to serve my country as ambassador to Austria.”

Kennedy did not respond to a request for comment on her confirmation.

Biden and Edward Kennedy were longtime friends, and they served together in the Senate for 36 years. Biden spoke at his 2009 memorial and said Kennedy was like an “older brother” to him.

Victoria “Vicki” Reggie grew up in Crowley, La., and graduated from Tulane Law School. She worked as an attorney in Chicago and later, in Washington, D.C. There, she met Kennedy, and the two got married in 1992, which was the second marriage for both of them.

Kennedy has known Biden for years, and they have had a close relationship. Following the death of Biden’s son Beau in 2015, Kennedy sent Biden a letter that included a message from Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. to a friend about losing his son, Joe Jr., during World War II.

Biden told the Globe that the letter was one of the most meaningful condolences he received after losing his son.

“I think that Vicki’s advice to me when she sent that letter is the explanation for why she’s doing what she’s doing,” Biden said. “There is solace and strength and a sense of peace that comes with continuing to do what Teddy would be doing today.”

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