The Senate confirmed Elaine Chao as transportation secretary Tuesday, but the vote was unusual for that position: Six senators voted against her.
Chao’s five immediate predecessors all got unanimous confirmation votes, three of them by voice. Chao herself was confirmed by the Senate in 2001 as labor secretary on a voice vote.
Still, the Senate confirmed Chao with 93 votes, and that’s likely to be one of the highest levels of support for a nominee in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Chao’s husband, voted present.
The five Democrats and one independent who voted against Chao included rising stars in the party as well as torchbearers of its liberal wing.
They ranged from Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Cory Booker of New Jersey to Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in the 2016 election, but fell short of winning the bid.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York also voted against Chao, as did Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon.
Chao was sworn in late Tuesday afternoon by Vice President Mike Pence at his ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Office Building. Earlier, Pence visited the Senate floor during Chao’s confirmation vote.
Most Democrats voted for Chao. Many senators and their spouses know her because they’ve socialized with her.
“Clearly, she is part of the Senate family,” said Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who’s the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.