Amid struggle for votes, GOP plows ahead with Cabinet picks

Amid struggle for votes, GOP plows ahead with Cabinet picks
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Senate Republicans are preparing to move forward with President TrumpDonald John TrumpOver 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: study CNN's Anderson Cooper unloads on Trump Jr. for spreading 'idiotic' conspiracy theories about him Cohn: Jamie Dimon would be 'phenomenal' president MORE’s Cabinet nominees as soon as next week. The problem is that none of them appear to have locked up the 51 votes needed to be confirmed.

But Republicans are barreling ahead anyway, facing heavy pressure from both the administration and their conservative base to speed up the process.

CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Air Force outlines plan for biggest force since end of Cold War | Trump admin slashes refugee cap | Mattis accuses Russia of meddling in Macedonia's NATO bid Hillicon Valley: Elon Musk sued by diver from Thai cave rescue | Researchers find new malware family | FEMA delays new presidential alert test Trump administration to cut refugee admissions to 30K for 2019 MORE, who has been nominated to lead the State Department, and CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel, tapped to be Pompeo’s successor as spy chief, have particularly stiff headwinds in the face of GOP opposition and are quietly meeting with potential swing votes.

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White House physician Ronny Jackson, Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, is also scheduled to get a committee hearing next week, on April 25. He’s certain to face questions about his lack of experience in running a large bureaucratic organization like the VA.

Senators say they expect GOP leadership to bring Pompeo’s nomination to the floor first, even if he isn’t able to win a favorable recommendation from the Foreign Relations Committee.

“Oh, yes, I’m confident of that,” Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynKavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow Grassley: Kavanaugh accuser 'deserves to be heard' in 'appropriate' manner MORE (R-Texas) told The Hill, asked about giving Pompeo a floor vote.

According to the Senate Historian’s Office, senators have only used such a move on a Cabinet nominee once before: In 1945, when President Franklin Roosevelt appointed Henry Wallace to be secretary of Commerce.

It appears increasingly unlikely that Pompeo will be able to get majority support from the Foreign Relations panel, where Republicans have a one-seat advantage, because GOP Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSome employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump says Dems inflated Puerto Rico death toll | House cancels Friday votes | Florence starts to hit coast The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Facing major hurricane, Trump is tested MORE (Ky.) opposes him.

To do so he would need to win over at least one Democrat. Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Cuomo wins and Manafort plea deal Virginia reps urge Trump to declare federal emergency ahead of Hurricane Florence More Dems come out in public opposition to Kavanaugh MORE (D-Va.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSome employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report Dems seek ways to block Trump support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen Hillicon Valley: Trump signs off on sanctions for election meddlers | Russian hacker pleads guilty over botnet | Reddit bans QAnon forum | FCC delays review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger | EU approves controversial copyright law MORE (D-N.H.) are the only two on the panel who supported him to be CIA director.

But Kaine announced he would oppose Pompeo to be the country’s top diplomat, saying he has “grave doubts about his anti-diplomacy disposition.”

Shaheen is opposing Pompeo as well, citing her “deep concerns” about his “past statements and policy views, particularly in regards to the LGBTQ community, American Muslims and women’s reproductive rights.”

Republicans will be forced to lean on Democrats to get Pompeo confirmed by the full Senate. 

With Paul opposed and Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainAnother recession could hit US in 2019, says credit union association chief R-E-S-P-E-C-T: One legacy of Franklin and McCain is up to us To cure Congress, elect more former military members MORE (R-Ariz.) absent from Washington, they only have 49 potential “yes” votes — one short of the 50 they need to let Vice President Pence break a tie. 

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerMurkowski echoes calls for Kavanaugh, accuser to testify Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow MORE (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Foreign Relations panel, sidestepped questions about moving Pompeo to the floor even if he doesn’t get a favorable vote, chiding reporters that “conjecture is bad for your health.”

But he confirmed that he would like to have both a committee vote and a full Senate vote on Pompeo next week, before Congress leaves for a weeklong recess. 

“I know there’s a desire on behalf of the administration to try to have him confirmed before recess,” he said.

While every Republican besides Paul supported Pompeo to be CIA director and are expected to vote for him again, Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGrassley agrees to second Kavanaugh hearing after GOP members revolt Murkowski echoes calls for Kavanaugh, accuser to testify Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday MORE (R-Ariz.) said on Tuesday that he is “still waiting on some information from him” before he makes a decision.

A growing number of Democratic senators are coming out against Pompeo, citing his hawkish views and broader concerns about Trump’s foreign policy, including his decision to name John Bolton his national security adviser.

But of the 14 members of the minority who voted for Pompeo as CIA director, a group that includes Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingRestoring our national parks would be a bipartisan win for Congress Restore our parks Renaming Senate office building after McCain sparks GOP backlash MORE (I-Maine), only Kaine, Shaheen, Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzOvernight Energy: Warren bill would force companies to disclose climate impacts | Green group backs Gillum in Florida gov race | Feds to open refuge near former nuke site Warren wants companies to disclose more about climate change impacts Congress just failed our nation’s veterans when it comes to medical marijuana MORE (D-Hawaii) and Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDem rep who met with Kavanaugh accuser: 'She wanted her truth to come out' Murkowski echoes calls for Kavanaugh, accuser to testify Hypocrisy in Kavanaugh case enough to set off alarms in DC MORE (D-Calif.) have said they will oppose Pompeo to lead the State Department.

Cornyn said there are “discussions going on” with Democrats but declined to elaborate as he walked backwards into his office.

Pompeo is leaving no stone unturned as he hunts for votes ahead of a potential showdown on the floor next week. 

He has met with Democratic Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinKavanaugh becomes September surprise for midterm candidates Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow MORE (W.Va.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampKavanaugh becomes September surprise for midterm candidates Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow MORE (N.D.), who are both up for reelection this fall and previously supported Trump’s Cabinet picks. Heitkamp said on Tuesday that an unfavorable vote in committee would not impact her decision. 

“We’re still evaluating. Still considering. ... Still undecided,” Heitkamp said.

Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillDems gain momentum 50 days before midterms CBS Poll: Missouri, Montana Senate races in dead heats Dems play waiting game with Collins and Murkowski MORE (D-Mo.) told reporters that she was meeting with Pompeo this week, while Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) said Pompeo’s team had reached out and a spokeswoman for Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: North Korean IT firm hit with sanctions | Zuckerberg says Facebook better prepared for midterms | Big win for privacy advocates in Europe | Bezos launches B fund to help children, homeless Bipartisan trio asks US intelligence to investigate ‘deepfakes’ Warner: 'overwhelming majority' of Republicans would back social media regulations MORE said the Virginia Democrat plans to meet with Pompeo pending scheduling. 

Jones, who was not in the Senate for Pompeo’s CIA vote, said he was keeping an “open mind.”

Meanwhile, the White House formally sent Haspel’s nomination to the Senate on Tuesday, which could pave the way for her to get a confirmation hearing before the recess.

Haspel has been meeting with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, including Warner and Manchin, as well as Senate leadership.

With Paul opposed to her nomination and several key GOP votes on the fence, Haspel could also need support from Democrats to win confirmation.

“Don’t know how I’m going to vote. Totally open-minded,” Manchin told reporters on Tuesday.

Haspel is under scrutiny from both sides of aisle because of her reported role in interrogations at a “black site” prison and the destruction of videotapes documenting the waterboarding sessions of an al Qaeda suspect there.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMurkowski echoes calls for Kavanaugh, accuser to testify Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday White House says Kavanaugh ready to testify over 'false allegation' MORE (R-Maine), a key moderate vote and member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, met with Haspel on Monday but has said she will wait until the hearing to make a decision. 

“I had a very good meeting with her. There are obviously some questions that she’s going to need to answer in a public hearing,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting some additional information I asked for.”