Kelly Knight Craft, the United States ambassador to Canada, was confirmed on Wednesday to serve as the next ambassador to the United Nations.
More than five months after President Trump announced Ms. Craft as his nominee for the post, the Senate approved the appointment in a 56-to-34 vote largely along party lines, with only five Democrats deciding in her favor.
The post is widely considered the second-most important foreign policy position in a presidential administration, after the secretary of state. But Ms. Craft is stepping into the job at a time of widespread doubts about the Trump White House’s commitment to global institutions like the United Nations.
During Ms. Craft’s confirmation hearing last month, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, said she was a “phenomenal selection by the president.” But Democrats took issue with Ms. Craft’s relative lack of diplomatic experience as well as her family’s investments in fossil fuels.
At the hearing, Ms. Craft said she would “assume this position with cleareyed humility,” adding that she had “much to learn about the United Nations.”
She also differentiated herself from Mr. Trump by saying that Saudi Arabia must be held accountable for human rights abuses and that humans have contributed to climate change.
Ms. Craft, 57, became the United States ambassador to Canada in 2017. During her tenure, the relationship between Canada and the United States was strained by bitter trade negotiations, during which Mr. Trump accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “making false statements” and being “very dishonest and weak.”
Although she kept a relatively low profile during her tenure as ambassador to Canada, Ms. Craft was criticized for statements she made about the environment during an October 2017 interview with CBC News. Asked whether she believed in climate change, Ms. Craft said that she respected “both sides of the science,” despite the overwhelming scientific consensus on global warming.
But during her confirmation hearing, she said that “human behavior has contributed to the changing climate.”
“Let there be no doubt,” she added. “I take this matter seriously, and if confirmed, I will be an advocate for all countries to do their part in addressing climate change.”
Ms. Craft, a Kentucky native, has been known as a fund-raiser for Republican candidates and officeholders. She is close to Mr. McConnell, who is also from Kentucky. Ms. Craft and her husband, Joseph W. Craft III, a billionaire coal magnate, donated more than $2 million to Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and inauguration.
Ms. Craft has some experience at the United Nations, having served as an alternate delegate to the body under President George W. Bush, who appointed her in 2007.
In a minority report from the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations this month, her critics said she was a poor candidate because she had displayed a “lack of depth on key foreign policy issues” during her hearing, and because she was often “away from the embassy — and indeed, outside the country” while ambassador to Canada.
Her elevation to the 193-member United Nations will fill a significant vacancy in the Trump administration’s diplomatic corps. Ms. Craft’s predecessor, Nikki R. Haley, announced in October that she was resigning from the post at the end of last year.
The post was filled temporarily by Jonathan R. Cohen, who had served as deputy representative to the United Nations during Ms. Haley’s tenure.
In December, President Trump was planning to nominate Heather Nauert, a former Fox News anchor who was then the chief State Department spokeswoman, for the high-profile ambassadorship. But she withdrew from consideration in February, citing family concerns. People familiar with the process said she dropped from the running because she had a nanny who did not have the proper work visa.