\WASHINGTON -- Democratic Sen. John Kerry began his confirmation process for secretary of state Thursday with an appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The Massachusetts lawmaker has served on the committee now vetting his nomination for 29 years.
"I think you've led a life that brought you to this moment and I'm happy for you," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told Kerry at Thursday's hearing.
Current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton introduced her replacement, saying "John is the right choice to carry forward the Obama administration's foreign policy."
Later, the atmosphere became less jovial when Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., brought up Clinton's testimony on the Sept. 11 attack on U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead.
"Americans do care, they do care, they do care why four Americans were murdered," McCain said. "We do care why the American people were misled."
Kerry concurred saying, "You represent the American people. You're the other branch of government; you have a right to know what took place."
The hearing also focused on climate change, something President Obama vowed to address during his second term.
Kerry told lawmakers he would lead the charge.
"I will be a passionate advocate about this but not based on ideologies, (but) based on facts, based on science," the Massachusetts lawmaker said. "And I hope to sit with all of you and convince you this $6 trillion market is worth millions of American jobs."
Kerry said America must lead on green jobs, not follow. He said he believes his effectiveness as America's chief diplomat depends on Congress getting the nation's debt and deficit under control.
"We can't be strong in the world unless we're strong at home," he told the congressional panel.
The Obama administration's reluctance to provide military aid to opposition forces in Syria was a major talking point.
Specifically, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., questioned Kerry about the wisdom of the Obama administration's decision to send F-16 fighter jets to Egypt in light of its president's anti-Semitic rhetoric.
"You've heard President (Mohammed) Morsi's comments about Zionists and Israelis be 'blood suckers and descendants of apes and pigs.' Do you think it's wise to send them F-16's and tanks?" Paul said.
While Kerry called Egyptian leader's remarks "reprehensible," he said, "We have critical interests with Egypt. Critical interests with Egypt. Egypt has, thus far, supported and lived by the peace agreement with Israel."