Senators Pledge To Kill Pompeo Nomination

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia said Sunday he is committed to opposing CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s confirmation to become the next secretary of state.

“I have decided to vote against him to be secretary of state. … We have a president who is anti-diplomacy, and I worry that Mike Pompeo has shown the same tendency to oppose diplomacy,” Kaine told CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday. “I don’t want a secretary of state who is going to exacerbate President Trump’s tendencies to oppose diplomacy.”

Democratic senators on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee grilled Pompeo Thursday in an hours long session.

Democrats questioned Pompeo about the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the politically contentious hotspots in Syria and North Korea and a number of other topics. The CIA director declined to answer many of their questions, arguing it would not be best to conduct legal analysis on the fly and in such a public forum.

Pompeo largely rejected the notion that he is a war hawk, which Democrats increasingly fear after Trump installed the hawkish John Bolton as his national security adviser.

Kaine notably voted for Pompeo to become CIA director and believes he hasn’t had a reason to question that vote. Still, the senator has repeatedly said he doesn’t think Pompeo is the right person to become the nation’s top diplomat.

The Virginia senator is not the only member of the committee to harbor doubts about Pompeo’s candidacy, others are leaning towards voting against the CIA director for secretary of state.

GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire are also signaling they will vote against Pompeo. If all three senators decide to vote against Pompeo, along with 10 Democrats on the committee that have pledged to vote against him, the CIA director faces a likely 11-10 vote against his confirmation.

That wouldn’t necessarily kill Pompeo’s chances of becoming secretary.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could still bring Pompeo’s nomination up for a vote on the Senate floor next week even if the committee rejects him. The move would not only be politically contentious, but extremely rare in the history of the Senate.

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