The Senate confirmed CIA Director Mike PompeoMike PompeoHillicon Valley — TikTok, Snapchat seek to distance themselves from Facebook State: US 'strongly opposes' Israeli settlement expansion Lawmakers praise upcoming establishment of cyber bureau at State 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 PaulIt's time for Fauci to go — but don't expect it to happen On The Money — Democrats craft billionaire tax with deal in reach Rand Paul questioning if crypto could become world reserve currency MORE (R-Ky.) reversed his position and said he would support Trump’s pick.
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 TrumpJan. 6 panel plans to subpoena Trump lawyer who advised on how to overturn election Texans chairman apologizes for 'China virus' remark Biden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day 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.
"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 — TikTok, Snapchat seek to distance themselves from Facebook Lawmakers praise upcoming establishment of cyber bureau at State The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Supreme Court lets Texas abortion law stand MORE, who was confirmed 56-43 last year.
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPricing methane and carbon emissions will help US meet the climate moment Democratic senator: Methane fee could be 'in jeopardy' Manchin jokes on party affiliation: 'I don't know where in the hell I belong' 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) MuellerSenate 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 Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel 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 McConnellManchin backs raising debt ceiling with reconciliation if GOP balks Biden needs to be both Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside Billionaire tax gains momentum 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 HarrisRNC targets McAuliffe, Biden campaign event with mobile billboard Obama looks to give new momentum to McAuliffe Kamala Harris engages with heckler during New York speech 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 ready to put a wrap on dragged-out talks Providing affordable housing to recruit our next generation of volunteer firefighters The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat MORE (Mont.), Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSenate Democrats blast Supreme Court on one-year anniversary of Barrett's confirmation Senators weigh future of methane fee in spending bill Senate Democrats dial down the Manchin tension MORE (Mich.) and Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseySenate Democrats call for diversity among new Federal Reserve Bank presidents Manchin, Sanders to seek deal on Biden agenda Democrats struggle to gain steam on Biden spending plan MORE Jr. (Pa.) were among the red and purple state senators who opposed Pompeo. Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by American Clean Power — Dems see path to deal on climate provisions Sanders faces difficult choice on slimmed-down budget bill Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by American Clean Power — Methane fee faces negotiations MORE (D-Va.), who isn't up for reelection but supported Pompeo to be CIA director, announced his opposition moments before the vote.
But Republicans lashed out at Democrats throughout the week. Sen. Cory GardnerCory GardnerColorado remap plan creates new competitive district Protecting the outdoors: Three cheers for America's best idea Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm 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.