The Senate confirmed President Biden’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday, elevating an African American woman and career diplomat to one of the most high-profile jobs in diplomacy.

The upper chamber took an initial step, voting 78 to 20 to elevate Linda Thomas-Greenfield to ambassador status, with Democrats and moderate Republicans praising her decades of experience serving under presidents of both parties. A second vote to make her “representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations” was 78 to 21.

The votes come as the United States prepares to take over the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council for the month of March. Thomas-Greenfield has promised to work with foreign countries to achieve common goals and defend human rights around the world.

At her confirmation hearing last month, she told senators that she wants to help restore America’s reputation as a defender of democracy and human rights.

The veteran diplomat did face skeptical questions from Republican senators over an Oct. 25, 2019, speech she gave on “China-U.S.-Africa Relationships.”

Thomas-Greenfield said she regrets accepting the speaking engagement, which was sponsored by an educational institute funded by the Chinese Communist Party.

The speech at Savannah State University was part of a lecture series sponsored by the Confucius Institute.

Thomas-Greenfield said she knew of the affiliation when she accepted the engagement but became alarmed afterward at what she saw as a predatory effort by the Chinese organization to exert influence at the historically Black university.

Thomas-Greenfield’s confirmation was widely expected but was delayed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who attacked her as insufficiently hawkish on China, citing the speech.