U.S. Senate on Thursday voted 63-34 to confirm the nomination of John Brennan to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
In a statement, President Barack Obama praised Brennan for "his determination to keep America safe, his commitment to working with Congress, his ability to build relationships with foreign partners, and his fidelity to the values that define us as a nation."
Obama said "timely, accurate intelligence is absolutely critical to disrupting terrorist attacks, dismantling al Qaeda and its affiliates, and meeting the broad array of security challenges that we face as a nation," and Brennan's leadership will be " essential" in these efforts.
The vote took place after a dramatic 13-hour filibuster by Republican Senator Rand Paul, which ended shortly after midnight. Paul was unhappy with ambiguity surrounding whether the administration could kill Americans on U.S. soil using drone strikes, and took to the floor to talk non-stop for about 13 hours Wednesday, delaying the vote.
The White House bowed to the pressure, and Attorney General Eric Holder sent Paul a letter Thursday, saying the president does not have the authority to use weaponized drones to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil.
Brennan will replace Mike Morrell, the acting CIA director. Morrell is to continue serving as deputy director of the CIA.
As counterterrorism advisor for Obama, Brennan ran the secret program using drones to hunt down terror suspects in countries like Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan. His handling of the drone program has been a major obstacle during his nomination process, and senators have been asking the White House to shed more light into the secretive program.