The path for Mike Pompeo to become President Donald Trump’s secretary of state has become clearer and easier as he managed to squeak through the Foreign Relations Committee on Monday. The Senate is, in fact, expected to confirm the current CIA director as early as this week for the crucial post.
Pompeo, as expected, was opposed by most Democrats as well as a lone Republican, initially giving some hurdles to his confirmation process. But the savvy Trump administration was so determined to get Pompeo on board they decided to give him a shining, key role in laying the groundwork for upcoming talks between the U.S. and North Korea.
In his capacity as CIA director, Pompeo met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to start laying the groundwork for a meeting with Kim and President Trump. Pompeo’s efforts earned him praises, even from Democrats.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn, is so confident that Pompeo will make it. He said the opposition to Pompeo hardly matters: “The only thing that matters is 50 votes at the end of the day, so who cares.”
Pompeo’s chances were bolstered significantly late last week when Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp from the deep-red North Dakota, announced that she would vote for Pompeo on the Senate floor.
Prior to Heitkamp’s declaration of support, Republicans struggled with one vote short of confirming Pompeo based on their own simple majority due to the objections of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Sen. John McCain’s continued absence from the Senate. Before Heitkamp jumped in, the likely prospects for Pompeo was a 49-50 outcome. Heitkamp’s commitment of support virtually guaranteed that Pompeo will get a 50-49 majority.
Pompeo’s votes may even increase as Republicans share they expect more Democrats aside from Heitkamp to vote for Pompeo. During his confirmation to the CIA a year ago, fourteen Democrats also supported Pompeo’s confirmation.
Paul on Monday also decided he could support Pompeo after all, following a talk with President Trump. Sen. Tom Cotton for his part sees it as almost a done deal. He said: “We will confirm Mike Pompeo as secretary of state. No question.”
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas said it is for the country’s interest that Pompeo be confirmed. Cornyn said: “It makes no sense to block Pompeo at a time when we are engaging in the most dangerous and fragile geopolitical negotiations in recent memory. And to basically deny the president’s secretary of state undercuts the country at a time when we need the leadership.”
Democrats say they oppose Pompeo because they fear his being too “hawkish” and that he might not put diplomacy ahead of military solutions. Corker, however, believes, the Democrats are only essentially opposing Trump, and not Pompeo.
Pompeo is Harvard-educated and graduated first in his class at West Point Military Academy. Corker describes him as “the most qualified person for the job in Washington.”
Pompeo’s Pyongang trip, the first of its kind for any CIA director in history, elevated his status at such an important juncture in the nomination process.