SPONSORED:

Senate panel approves Trump nominee for spy chief

Senate panel approves Trump nominee for spy chief
© AP/Pool

The Senate Intelligence Committee voted on Tuesday to approve President TrumpDonald TrumpGaetz was denied meeting with Trump: CNN Federal Reserve chair: Economy would have been 'so much worse' without COVID-19 relief bills Police in California city declare unlawful assembly amid 'white lives matter' protest MORE’s spy chief nominee, Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeSunday shows preview: Democrats eye two-part infrastructure push; Michigan coronavirus cases surge Former Trump officials eye bids for political office Grenell congratulates Buttigieg on becoming second openly gay Cabinet member MORE (R-Texas).

Three members of the panel confirmed coming out of the closed-door vote that the panel had advanced to Ratcliffe’s nomination to the full Senate for a confirmation vote. If confirmed, the Texas Republican will be the next Director of National Intelligence (DNI).

“It was a straight party-line vote,” said Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerA bold fix for US international taxation of corporations Democrats offer competing tax ideas on Biden infrastructure Five ways an obscure Senate ruling could change Washington MORE (D-Va.), the vice chairman of the committee.

ADVERTISEMENT

The party-line vote is a shift from the panel's 14-2 approval for former DNI Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsIntel heads to resume worldwide threats hearing scrapped under Trump Lack of cyber funds in Biden infrastructure plan raises eyebrows How President Biden can hit a home run MORE, who stepped down last year.

Ratcliffe could lose as many as three GOP senators during the floor vote and still be confirmed. No Republican has said they will oppose him.

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntThune: 'There are Republicans who would vote' for smaller infrastructure package Republicans can't handle the truth about taxes Sunday shows preview: Democrats eye two-part infrastructure push; Michigan coronavirus cases surge MORE (R-Mo.) indicated that it was unlikely the Senate would be able to vote on Ratcliffe’s nomination before leaving for a weeklong Memorial Day break, set to begin Thursday.

Ratcliffe’s approval by the panel was all but guaranteed after Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings Biden-GOP infrastructure talks off to rocky start Moderate GOP senators and Biden clash at start of infrastructure debate MORE (R-Maine) announced that she would support him.

"I interviewed him at great length over the phone when we were out of Washington," Collins told The Hill. "I asked him then and again yesterday a series of tough questions about whether he would be independent, present unvarnished analysis to the president and Congress, and he said he would."

ADVERTISEMENT

Collins, who faces a tough reelection vote this year, was viewed as the committee’s most likely swing vote.

Trump initially said last year that he intended to nominate Ratcliffe to the post, but the Texas congressman withdrew his name from consideration amid reports that he inflated his résumé.

He's gained a reputation as a loyalist to Trump, including serving as part of a group of House Republicans who were advisers to the president's impeachment team.

But during his confirmation hearing, Ratcliffe vowed that he would be independent if confirmed to be DNI. The position has been filled in an acting capacity since Coats stepped down in August 2019.

His assurances failed to move Democrats, who said that Ratcliffe failed to answer their questions during a committee hearing earlier this month.

"He was ... very well briefed but I just don't see any evidence that he's going to speak truth to power," Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenThe first Southern state legalizes marijuana — what it means nationally A bold fix for US international taxation of corporations Democrats offer competing tax ideas on Biden infrastructure MORE (D-Ore.) told reporters at the time.