Pompeo lacks votes for positive vote on panel
CIA Director Mike Pompeo is officially short of the votes needed to clear the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said Friday that “after careful consideration” he will oppose Pompeo’s nomination to lead the State Department.
“I remain concerned that Director Pompeo will not challenge the President in critical moments,” he said in a statement.
“On vital decisions facing our country, Director Pompeo seems less concerned with rule of law and partnership with our allies and more inclined to emphasize unilateral action and the use of force,” he added.
With GOP Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) opposed to the nomination, Trump’s pick needed to pick up at least one Democrat to be able to win over a majority of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Coons was the only Democrat left on the panel who hadn’t announced his opposition. He warned as recently as Thursday that he was leaning against supporting Pompeo, who he had previously opposed to be CIA director.The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to vote on Pompeo’s nomination Monday evening.
Pompeo could still win confirmation on the Senate floor, as Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) has announced her support and other centrist Democrats may also back him.
But with Paul and other panel Democrats opposed to him, he will be unable to be reported out of the Foreign Relations panel with a favorable report unless something changes.
Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) could try to move Pompeo’s nomination to the floor with an unfavorable recommendation.
Democrats on the committee have yet to tip their hand about if they will allow Pompeo’s nomination to move to the floor with an unfavorable recommendation or if they will try to kill his prospects in the committee.
If they don’t help move him to the floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) could try to discharge Pompeo’s nomination from committee, which could ultimately require 60 votes.
Liberal senators are urging their party to try to block Pompeo’s nomination by filibustering the discharge petition.
But Senate Democratic leadership could be wary of using the hardball tactics with more controversial nomination fights looming, including deputy CIA director Gina Haspel’s nomination to lead the spy agency.
It would also force red and purple state Democrats up for reelection in states Trump won in 2016 to decide if they will block a nominee that otherwise appears to have the votes to be confirmed by the Senate.
Heitkamp was one of 15 Democrats, including Independent Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who supported Pompeo’s nomination last year to be CIA director. Seven remain on the fence: Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Minority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Mark Warner (Va.) and King.
GOP Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) has also said that he’s undecided on Pompeo’s nomination as he tries to get more information. Flake previously supported Pompeo to be CIA director.
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