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 TrumpFlorida GOP lawmaker says he's 'thinking' about impeachment Democrats introduce 'THUG Act' to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort Kurdish group PKK pens open letter rebuking Trump's comparison to ISIS 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 PompeoEx-Watergate prosecutor says evidence in impeachment inquiry 'clearly' points to Trump Pompeo rejects idea that the United States abandoned Kurds Mike Pompeo's Faustian bargain 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 CornynTrump slams 'very dumb' O'Rourke for proposals on guns, tax exempt status for churches GOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate Succession at DHS up in the air as Trump set to nominate new head 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 PaulOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes Top Foreign Relations senators introduce Turkey sanctions bill MORE (Ky.) opposes him.

To do so he would need to win over at least one Democrat. Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineLawmakers set to host fundraisers focused on Nats' World Series trip The Hill's 12:30 Report: Washington mourns loss of Elijah Cummings GOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate MORE (D-Va.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenGraham, Van Hollen introduce Turkey sanctions bill Senators fear Syria damage 'irreversible' after Esper, Milley briefing US envoy insists Syria pullout doesn't affect Iran strategy 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 McCainCummings to lie in state at the Capitol Elizabeth Warren should concern Donald Trump 'bigly' Lawmakers toast Greta Van Susteren's new show 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 CorkerTrump's GOP impeachment firewall holds strong George Conway hits Republicans for not saying Trump's name while criticizing policy Trump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid 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 FlakeTrump's GOP impeachment firewall holds strong How to survive an impeachment Are Senate Republicans certain that Trump can return to office? 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 BoltonJohn BoltonTrump job approval slips 2 points in Gallup poll Washington indecision compounded the Kurds' dilemma US Ambassador Sondland says Trump directed officials to work with Giuliani on Ukraine MORE 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 KingSenators fear Syria damage 'irreversible' after Esper, Milley briefing Overnight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine Democrats grill Army, Air Force nominees on military funding for border wall MORE (I-Maine), only Kaine, Shaheen, Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzDemocratic senator rips Trump's 'let them fight' remarks: 'Enough is enough' Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever CNN catches heat for asking candidates about Ellen, Bush friendship at debate MORE (D-Hawaii) and Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSchiff should consider using RICO framework to organize impeachment We need answers to questions mainstream media won't ask about Democrats The Hill's Morning Report - Trump grapples with Syria fallout 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) ManchinOvernight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule Senate Dems lose forced vote against EPA power plant rule Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever MORE (W.Va.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Trump wins 60 percent approval in rural areas of key states Pence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa 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 McCaskillIranian attacks expose vulnerability of campaign email accounts Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Ocasio-Cortez blasts NYT editor for suggesting Tlaib, Omar aren't representative of Midwest 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 WarnerLawmakers set to host fundraisers focused on Nats' World Series trip The Hill's 12:30 Report: Washington mourns loss of Elijah Cummings Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings 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 CollinsOvernight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes 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.”