Senate confirms Pompeo as Trump's new secretary of State

The Senate confirmed CIA Director Mike PompeoMike PompeoHaley has 'positive' meeting with Trump No time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Psaki: Sexism contributes to some criticism of Harris MORE to be secretary of State on Thursday, overcoming steep opposition to his nomination.

Senators voted 57-42, well over the simple majority needed for approval by the chamber.

Pompeo’s confirmation was a virtual lock after 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.) reversed his position and said he would support Trump’s pick.

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The announcement came amid an intense pressure campaign by the White House and spared Pompeo the dubious distinction of being the first secretary of State nominee since at least 1925 to fail to win over the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“After calling continuously for weeks for Director Pompeo to support President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — State Dept. employees targets of spyware Ohio Republican Party meeting ends abruptly over anti-DeWine protesters Jan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth MORE’s belief that the Iraq war was a mistake, and that it is time to leave Afghanistan, today I received confirmation that Director Pompeo agrees with President Trump,” Rand said explaining his decision.

But Pompeo’s nomination faced historic opposition from Democrats, sparking an unusually partisan confirmation fight for a secretary of State nomination.

Democratic Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampVirginia loss lays bare Democrats' struggle with rural voters Washington's oldest contact sport: Lobbyists scrum to dilute or kill Democrats' tax bill Progressives prepare to launch counterattack in tax fight MORE (N.D.), Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Dems press drillers over methane leaks Overnight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Abortion access for 65M women at stake Joe Manchin should embrace paid leave — now MORE (W.Va.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyBiden to have audience with pope, attend G20 summit Biden taps former Indiana Sen. Donnelly as ambassador to Vatican Republicans may regret restricting reproductive rights MORE (Ind.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonNASA spacewalk delayed due to debris threat This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead Two trajectories to Mars by the 2030s MORE. (Fla.) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillLobbying world Ex-Rep. Akin dies at 74 Republicans may regret restricting reproductive rights MORE (Mo.) — who are each up for reelection in states won by Trump in 2016 — joined with Democratic Sen. Doug Jones (Ala.) and Sen. Angus KingAngus KingAmazon, Facebook, other large firms would pay more under proposed minimum tax, Warren's office says Senators look to defense bill to move cybersecurity measures Energy information chief blames market for high fuel prices MORE (I-Maine) to support his nomination. 

"In his role at the CIA, Mr. Pompeo has demonstrated the ability to be an effective manager and operator on the world stage," Jones said in a statement explaining his decision to back Pompeo.

But that’s substantially less than the 14 Democrats plus King, who caucuses with the Democrats, who supported Pompeo last year to be CIA director.

Pompeo is poised to come close to a record on opposition votes received by a secretary of State nominee. That record is currently held by Trump’s first secretary of State, Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonHillicon Valley — Blinken unveils new cyber bureau at State Blinken formally announces new State Department cyber bureau Hillicon Valley — TikTok, Snapchat seek to distance themselves from Facebook MORE, who was confirmed 56-43 last year.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan GOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level Progressive groups urge Schumer to prevent further cuts to T plan MORE (D-N.Y.), who supported Pompeo to be CIA director, said this week that he would oppose him, in part, because of the investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election.

Schumer told reporters that he asked Pompeo if he would publicly urge Trump not to fire special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Senate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG MORE or Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWashington still needs more transparency House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week MORE, but Pompeo “demurred.”

Pompeo, according to Schumer, also refused to walk back some of Trump's "nasty comments" about American Muslims or individuals from South Asia.

"I am voting 'no' for those reasons, and I think people have good reasons to vote 'no' for Secretary Pompeo, both on the foreign policy sphere, and in these areas," Schumer added

Pompeo’s confirmation was a setback for liberals, who wanted to force Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellUS could default within weeks absent action on debt limit: analysis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown Senate dodges initial December crisis with last-minute deal MORE (R-Ky.) to try to discharge Pompeo’s nomination from the committee. The unusual move would have required 60 votes and given Democrats an opening to try block Pompeo — the first time they would have been able to scuttle a Trump nominee on the Senate floor. 

But that strategy failed to take hold as vulnerable Democrats began coming out in support of Pompeo's nomination.

Red-state Democrats faced intense pressure from both sides, with progressive groups urging them to block Trump’s “war cabinet” and conservatives arguing opposition was a sign they were too liberal for their home states.

“So, what are red state Dems to do? Placate the base to pass the liberal Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisJoe Manchin should embrace paid leave — now The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden defends disappointing jobs report Harris's office undergoes difficult reset MORE litmus test? Or vote to confirm Pompeo? Either way red state Dems are left in a no-win situation,” Katie Martin, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), said ahead of the vote.

Democratic Sens. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocrats wrangle to keep climate priorities in spending bill  On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Senators huddle on path forward for SALT deduction in spending bill MORE (Mont.), Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Dems seek to preserve climate provisions Democrats wrangle to keep climate priorities in spending bill  Senate parliamentarian looms over White House spending bill MORE (Mich.) and Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseySenators urging federal investigation into Liberty University's handling of sexual assault claims Crucial talks on Biden agenda enter homestretch Senate Democrats call for diversity among new Federal Reserve Bank presidents MORE Jr. (Pa.) were among the red and purple state senators who opposed Pompeo. Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate dodges initial December crisis with last-minute deal Liberty University professor charged with alleged sexual battery and abduction of student Five Senate Democrats reportedly opposed to Biden banking nominee MORE (D-Va.), who isn't up for reelection but supported Pompeo to be CIA director, announced his opposition moments before the vote.

With Paul’s reversal, Pompeo technically didn’t need help from Democrats. With Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP senators appalled by 'ridiculous' House infighting MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, Chris Christie battle over Fox News Trump's attacks on McConnell seen as prelude to 2024 White House bid MORE (R-Ariz.) away from Washington, he still could have gotten a 50-49 vote if every Democrat had ultimately decided to oppose him.

But Republicans lashed out at Democrats throughout the week. Sen. Cory GardnerCory GardnerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to tackle omicron risks with new travel rules Gun control group alleges campaign finance violations in lawsuit against NRA Colorado Supreme Court signs off on new congressional map MORE (R-Colo.), the chairman of the NRSC, accused Democrats of “procedural sabotage.”

McConnell on Thursday called the Democratic tactics a failed attempt to “play politics.”

“It’s just too bad Director Pompeo’s confirmation process has offered such a prime example of the historic partisan obstruction that my colleagues across the aisle are visiting on the Senate,” he said.