Dems Clear Path For Pompeo’s Nomination

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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Three Senate Democrats have announced their support for President Donald Trump’s pick to replace former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, making it almost a virtual guarantee the Senate will confirm the nomination of Mike Pompeo.

“When I met with [CIA] Director Pompeo, we had a productive conversation about the complex security challenges we face, including the dangerous threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear missile program. I strongly believe that a successful, peaceful outcome will require a comprehensive strategy and a full team on the field, including an effective State Department, to leverage all available tools,” Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana announced on Twitter Monday.

“I believe Director Pompeo is capable of advancing U.S. interests and leading the State Department, and I will support his nomination,” Donnelly said.

Senate Democrats and one of their hawkish Republican colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) are looking to shoot Pompeo down Monday evening.

The SFRC is currently composed of 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats. Every Democrat on the panel has committed to voting against Pompeo’s nomination, which wouldn’t necessarily be a complete rebuke of Trump’s pick if all Republican members voted in favor. That likely won’t be the case.

Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul is also going to vote against Pompeo, putting the expected final SFRC tally at 11-10 against Pompeo’s nomination.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is committed to putting Pompeo’s nomination up for a vote on the Senate floor regardless of whether or not the SFRC gives Pompeo the green light. That move will likely spark outcry from Democrats, who will paint the majority leader’s move as unprecedented and a direct action against the wishes of the top foreign relations group in the upper chamber.

Since the SFRC began considering secretary of state nominations well over 100 years ago, it has never given a nominee an unfavorable vote. Pompeo would be the first nominee to ever get a thumbs down out of committee.

McConnell can use the so-called “nuclear option,” which would allow Pompeo’s nomination to get through with a simple majority vote on the Senate floor. In other words, McConnell could usher Pompeo through with 51 “yes” votes.

Two of Donnelly’s Democratic colleagues — Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota — are joining in the support.

“After meeting with Mike Pompeo, discussing his foreign policy perspectives, & considering his distinguished time as CIA Director & his exemplary career in public service, I will vote to confirm Mike Pompeo to be our next Secretary of State,” Manchin tweeted Monday.

If Paul votes “no” on the floor along with other Senate Democrats and Donnelly, Manchin and Heitkamp vote “yes,” Pompeo would pass with a 52-48 vote.

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