UPDATE: Branstad will resign on Wednesday after Senate confirms Branstad as Ambassador to China

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad will resign as governor of Iowa on Wednesday and immediately be sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to China, according to a news release.

Shortly after Branstad’s resignation, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds will be sworn in as Iowa’s 43rd governor at the Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines.
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The U.S. Senate voted to confirm Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as the next ambassador to China, 82-13.

With the vote, Branstad will resign as Governor later this week, clearing the way for Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds to become Iowa's first female Governor.

During his confirmation hearing earlier this month, Branstad assured lawmakers that he would not shy away from confronting Beijing on a range of issues, including human rights and trade.

Branstad, 70, says he intends to use his decades-long relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) to advance U.S. and international interests. The two met in 1985 when Xi, then a provincial official, led an agricultural trade delegation to Iowa.

Branstad is in his sixth nonconsecutive term as Iowa's governor. With more than 22 years at the helm of state government, he is the country's longest serving governor.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) speech to the U.S. Senate: