Trump's CIA chief clears Senate
© Greg Nash

The Senate is poised to approve Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) to lead the CIA after a fight over surveillance delayed his nomination. 

Senators voted 66-32 on President Trump's nominee Monday evening, with only 50 votes needed to clear him through the upper chamber. 
 
 
Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP anger with Fauci rises Congress's goal in December: Avoid shutdown and default Cotton swipes at Fauci: 'These bureaucrats think that they are the science' MORE (R-Ky.) was the only GOP senator to vote against him, writing in a rare op-ed that Pompeo's "desire for security will trump his defense of liberty." 
 
"[Pompeo said] those senators who voted to release the torture oversight report were 'quintessentially at odds with [their] duty to [their] country,'" he added. "I couldn’t disagree more." 
  
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The vote comes as Trump is drawing backlash for his first visit over the weekend with the intelligence agency. 
 
Speaking next to a memorial wall for fallen CIA officers, Trump rehashed a rhetorical battle over the size of the crowd at his inauguration and accused the media of fabricating a rift between the CIA and the newly sworn-in president.
 
Pompeo is the third Trump nominee to clear the Senate. Retired Gens. James Mattis and John Kelly were approved last week to lead the Pentagon and Homeland Security Department, respectively. 
 
Republicans on Monday blasted Democrats for delaying a "day one" vote for Pompeo, arguing leaving the top spot at the intelligence agency vacant over the weekend risked national security. 
 
  
Senate Republicans are also accusing Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats wrangle to keep climate priorities in spending bill  Coons says White House could impose border fee for carbon-intensive products The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - The omicron threat and Biden's plan to beat it MORE (D-N.Y.) of going back on a deal. Six sources told The Weekly Standard that Schumer said his conference would agree to vote on Pompeo on Friday.
 
A leadership aide disputed that, arguing there was never an agreement and noting the Senate has never confirmed a CIA director on the same day as a president's inauguration.
 
Democrats faced an uphill battle to try to block Pompeo after senators voted 89-8 on Friday evening to proceed to his nomination.
 
But Wyden (D-Ore.) argued that senators shouldn't jam in a late Friday night debate, which would have overlapped with inauguration celebrations. 
 
He also praised the effort to force an hourslong debate on the Senate floor, arguing it marked a rare time lawmakers discussed the CIA in an open setting.
 
"The Senate is doing something that doesn't happen often around here," he said. "Having an open debate about the future of the Central Intelligence Agency." 
 
Democrats, led by Wyden, have raised concerns over Pompeo's positions on mass surveillance. Wyden warned that confirming him without nailing down his position leaves lawmakers, and the American people, without an understanding of how he'll run the agency. 
 
"What troubles me ... is if the congressman were to be confirmed as CIA director, the doors would close and he would operate in secret," he said from the Senate floor. "Yet Americans do not know which position he would take in running the CIA."