0238 GMT May 21, 2018
President Donald Trump’s nominee for US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, is facing serious opposition before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which may not have enough votes to recommend him for confirmation because all Democrats, and at least one Republican, have said they will oppose him.
The full Senate is still expected to consider Pompeo’s nomination later this week, AP reported.
But the rare rebuke expected from the panel, even after Pompeo’s recent visit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, would be the first time in years that a nominee for the high-level cabinet position did not receive a favorable committee vote.
The CIA director’s nomination faces a series of roadblocks before it can be brought to the Senate floor, the Hill reported.
First, he’s facing a historic rebuke by the Foreign Relations Committee during the vote scheduled for early Monday evening.
Republicans hold a one-seat advantage on the panel and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is expected to vote against his nomination. That means if Pompeo wants to get a favorable recommendation he needs to win over one Democratic senator.
But Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), the final Democrat on the panel to announce his position, said on Friday that he would oppose Pompeo.
Absent a last-minute vote switch, that leaves Republicans unable to report his nomination favorably to the Senate floor, marking a historic setback for Trump.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, could then try to either report Pompeo to the full Senate with an unfavorable recommendation or with no recommendation.
Corker blamed partisan politics for opposition to Pompeo, saying Pompeo is just as qualified as past secretaries of state nominees Hillary Clinton or John Kerry, both of whom received overwhelming support.
“It’s just sad that our nation has devolved politically to this point,” Corker said Sunday on “State of the Union” on CNN.
Pressure is mounting on senators from both sides. White House allies are unloading ad campaigns against Democrats from Trump-won states, including North Dakota, Indiana and Missouri, to vote for the president’s nominee. But progressive groups are pounding senators’ offices in opposition to Pompeo’s hawkish foreign policy views and negative comments about Muslims. As soon as Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., announced her support last week, one group called on her to switch, AP wrote.
Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., who met with the nominee last week, “has concerns about Pompeo’s nomination to serve as secretary of state,” said spokesperson Ricki Eshman. The senator “is reviewing his record before making a final decision.”
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., who was among the last Democrats on the panel to announce his no vote, said he is concerned that Pompeo “will embolden, rather than moderate or restrain” Trump’s “most belligerent and dangerous instincts.”
“I do not make this decision lightly or without reservations,” Coons said in a statement Friday. “However, I remain concerned that Director Pompeo will not challenge the president in critical moments. On vital decisions facing our country, Director Pompeo seems less concerned with rule of law and partnership with our allies and more inclined to emphasize unilateral action and the use of force.”
Also several Democratic senators who supported Pompeo for CIA director say Pompeo’s views are not reflective of those they want in the top diplomat.
Pompeo’s nomination to become secretary of state has fallen into a state of flux after the loss of support in a Senate committee in the wake of Trump’s Syria strike.
Democrats had slammed Trump for launching airstrikes on Syria without congressional approval. The strike was in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on April 7.