Rand Paul under pressure as Pompeo hunts for votes
© Camille Fine

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP senators call for probe of federal grants on climate change Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges — Key ObamaCare groups in limbo | Opioids sending thousands of kids into foster care | House passes bill allowing Medicaid to pay for opioid treatments US watchdog: 'We failed' to stem Afghan opium production MORE (R-Ky.) is facing renewed pressure from President TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Fallon responds to Trump: I'll donate to pro-immigrant nonprofit in his name South Carolina GOP candidate expected to make full recovery after car accident Official: US to present North Korea with timeline, 'specific asks' MORE and some of his Senate colleagues to support Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOfficial: US to present North Korea with timeline, 'specific asks' Afghan ceasefires offer hope for a peaceful future Pompeo: Trump likely to meet with Putin in 'not-too-distant future' MORE for secretary of State as the administration hunts for votes.

Paul’s opposition is complicating Pompeo’s path to confirmation. Republicans are hoping to pass his nomination next week before leaving town for a recess.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate panel advances three spending bills Trump says he will sign executive order to end family separations Trump backs narrow bill halting family separations: official MORE (R-S.C.), who frequently battles with Paul on foreign policy, vented Thursday about Paul’s opposition.


“I hope that Sen. Paul will reconsider because if he changed his view then this would be over, and it really does bother me,” he said. “He ran for president; I ran for president; Trump beat us both. ... The election is over.”

With Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampMulvaney aims to cement CFPB legacy by ensuring successor's confirmation Heitkamp ad highlights record as Senate race heats up Supreme Court rules states can require online sellers to collect sales tax MORE (D-N.D.) becoming the first Democrat to say she will vote for Pompeo on Thursday, Republicans likely won’t need Paul’s support to confirm him on the Senate floor.

But Paul's opposition is poised to make Pompeo the first secretary of State nominee since the mid-1920s — before which committee business was largely conducted in secret — to be moved to the floor despite getting an unfavorable committee vote.

Republicans only hold a one-seat majority on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

With Paul, a member of the panel, expected to vote “no” during the committee’s Monday vote, Pompeo would need to pick up the support of at least one Democrat to get majority support.

So far, no Democrat has stepped forward. Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSenate moderates hunt for compromise on family separation bill All the times Horowitz contradicted Wray — but nobody seemed to notice Hillicon Valley: Trump hits China with massive tech tariffs | Facebook meets with GOP leaders over bias allegations | Judge sends Manafort to jail ahead of trial | AT&T completes Time Warner purchase MORE (Del.) is the only Democratic member who hasn’t said how he will vote. He previously opposed Pompeo to be CIA director and has said he’s leaning against Pompeo’s current nomination.

President Trump, who has been an ally of Paul's, has upped the pressure on him to support Pompeo.

During a working lunch, Trump said that he has “a lot of confidence” in Paul.

“Rand Paul has never let me down. ... I don’t think he will let us down again,” Trump said.

Winning over Paul, whose foreign policy views often clash with members of his own caucus, might be out of reach even for Trump.

Though Paul met with Pompeo on Thursday, he appeared unmoved after the closed-door powwow.

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCorker: 'I think there's a jailbreak brewing' in opposition to Trump tariffs GOP scrambles to regain fiscal credibility with House budget On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending MORE (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, signaled getting Paul on board was unlikely.

“I’ll leave him to the president,” he said while smiling, when asked if Paul could be won over.

Corker then interrupted a reporter who was asking a question on another topic, to turn around and add: “He’s a friend of mine, but I’ll let the president deal with that.”

Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonSenate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump Hillicon Valley: New FTC chief eyes shake up of tech regulation | Lawmakers target Google, Huawei partnership | Microsoft employees voice anger over ICE contract Lawmakers urge Google to drop partnership with Chinese phone maker Huawei MORE (R-Ark.) warned Democrats to support Pompeo and not “conspire” with Paul to block Pompeo’s nomination.

“Sen. Paul has unusual foreign policy views that are not representative of the Republican Senate caucus,” he said to reporters.