March 18 (UPI) -- The Senate on Thursday confirmed President Joe Biden's choices to serve as CIA director and deputy secretary of state.
William Burns was confirmed to lead the CIA and Brian McKeon was approved to serve under Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a voice vote on the Senate floor after Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, lifted a hold on both nominations.
Cruz placed a hold on the nominations in objection to the Biden administration failing to take action in response to the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany but lifted them after Blinken issued a statement warning that entities involved in the project should immediately abandon work or face sanctions.
"In light of the secretary's strong declaration, I'm following through on my commitment to lift the NS2-related holds I have placed on William Burns and Brian McKeon, the president's nominees for director of the CIA and deputy secretary of state for management and resources," Cruz said in a statement.
He added, however, that he would maintain his hold on other Biden State Department nominees "until full sanctions mandated by Congress are in fact broadly imposed against the ships and companies critical to completing the pipeline."
Burns, a longtime diplomat who served as secretary of state in the Obama administration, pledged to keep intelligence apolitical.
"That is exactly what President Biden expects of CIA. It was the first thing he told me when he asked me to take on this role," he said. "He said he wants the agency to give it to him straight -- and I pledged to do just that, and to defend those who do the same."
CIA director was a Cabinet-level position in the Trump administration but will no longer be under Biden.
McKeon will be the principal adviser to Blinken after having previously served as foreign policy adviser for President Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign and working alongside Biden before Barack Obama selected him to become executive secretary and chief of staff of the National Security Council.