In bumpy road to confirmation, Pompeo faces committee vote

Politics


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on Monday on President Donald Trump’s nominee to be secretary of state, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who could be the first nominee for the position not to win support from the panel.

FILE PHOTO: Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Mike Pompeo testifies during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on “Worldwide Threats” on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S., February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

That would not stop his Senate confirmation, but it could cast a shadow on his relationship with Congress.

The Senate confirmed Pompeo as CIA director in early 2017 with a 66-32 vote. Those who oppose him for the State Department job say he is too hawkish and socially conservative – he opposes gay marriage and has had ties to anti-Muslim groups – to be the country’s top diplomat.

But he is now one of Trump’s most trusted advisers and has taken the lead in preparing for the upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

There are 11 of Trump’s fellow Republicans and 10 Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee. Here is a look at how Monday’s vote could go:

REPORT THE NOMINEE TO THE SENATE FAVORABLY – If at least 11 of the 21 committee members back Pompeo, he would be recommended favorably to the full Senate.

However, since Republican Senator Rand Paul and all 10 committee Democrats have announced opposition, Pompeo will not be approved by the committee unless someone changes their position.

REPORT THE NOMINEE UNFAVORABLY – The committee can vote to send the nomination to the Senate unfavorably. This would still allow a vote in the full Senate.

This is extremely rare. The last Cabinet member reported unfavorably by a committee but eventually confirmed was Henry Wallace, who became secretary of commerce in 1945.

Because at least one Democrat not on the committee, Heidi Heitkamp, plans to support him, Pompeo is likely to be confirmed if there is a vote in the full Senate, unless another Republican comes out against him.

Republicans have a 51-49 Senate majority. But with Paul a firm “no” and Senator John McCain absent due to illness, Pompeo can receive at most 49 Republican votes.

REPORT WITHOUT A RECOMMENDATION – The committee can vote to send a nomination to the full Senate without a recommendation, which would still allow a vote.

TAKE NO ACTION – The committee can decline to send the nomination to the full Senate.

That is considered unlikely, Senate aides have said, because at least a few committee Democrats would not want to deny Pompeo, a former congressman, consideration by the full Senate.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Mary Milliken and Leslie Adler



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