Senate Panel Divided Over Pompeo 04/18 06:28
President Donald Trump's pick for secretary of state, CIA Director Mike
Pompeo, is facing so much opposition from Democrats on the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee that the panel could be forced to take the unusual step of
sending the nomination to the full Senate without a favorable recommendation.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump's pick for secretary of state, CIA
Director Mike Pompeo, is facing so much opposition from Democrats on the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee that the panel could be forced to take the unusual
step of sending the nomination to the full Senate without a favorable
Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire on Tuesday became the latest
member of the committee to announce her opposition, and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.,
recently said he would vote no. Both supported Pompeo as CIA director last year.
Pompeo is still expected to have enough votes in the full Senate to replace
Rex Tillerson, who was fired by Trump. But as support peels away, his
confirmation may come down to a handful of senators. The backlash ahead of the
panel's vote is a rare rebuke for such a high-profile Cabinet pick, and sets
Pompeo on a potentially uneven path for the new job.
"I continue to have deep concerns regarding Mr. Pompeo's past statements and
policy views, particularly in regards to the LGBTQ community, American Muslims
and women's reproductive rights," Shaheen said in a statement, after calling
the former Kansas congressman Tuesday to tell him she would be opposed.
Shaheen said Pompeo's previous roles "are fundamentally different from that
of Secretary of State, who represents American values around the world."
A sign of the important role Pompeo plays in the Trump administration: The
CIA director traveled to North Korea for a secret meeting with leader Kim Jong
Un, two U.S. official say. The meeting came as U.S. and North Korean officials
plan a summit between Trump and Kim. The officials spoke anonymously because
they were not authorized to discuss the trip publicly.
Rarely has the Senate panel failed to back a nominee, and some said not
since President George W. Bush nominated John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the
United Nations has the committee declined to recommend a White House pick.
Republicans have a narrow Senate majority, which gives them a single-vote
advantage on the panel. But with stiff opposition from Democrats --- and at
least one Republican, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, opposed --- the committee may
have few other options when it convenes as soon as next week.
"We'll see," said the committee's chairman, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.
Under Senate rules, if the nominee does not have support in the committee,
the panel could report to the full Senate unfavorably, which would send a
strong rebuke to the White House, or simply report without a recommendation. It
also could take no action.
One top committee Democrat, Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, said he was still
reviewing his decision. Senators submitted more than 100 questions for the
nominee after his initial hearing, and many are waiting for those responses.
Trump initially tapped Pompeo as CIA director, one of his first Cabinet
nominees in 2017, and they became close allies. But some Democrats have faced
resistance for their votes, and Pompeo is having a tougher path as the nominee
for secretary of state over his hawkish foreign policy views and comments about
minorities, having suggested that Muslims should denounce extremism and gay
people should not be able to marry.
During his confirmation hearing last week, Pompeo told senators it's
unlikely he'd resign if Trump fired special counsel Robert Mueller, who is
leading the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Of the more than a dozen Democrats who supported Pompeo's nomination as CIA
director in 2017, at least four, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California
and Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, now oppose his nomination for State.
"The Secretary of State is a very different role than CIA director, and it's
not the kind of position you learn on the job," Feinstein said in a statement
Tuesday. "I sense a certain disdain for diplomacy in Mike Pompeo that I believe
disqualifies him from being our next senior diplomat."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who also backed Pompeo
earlier, declined to say Tuesday how he would vote.