Mike Pompeo (pictured testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his conformation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 12, has lost the support of two Democrats
A positive Senate committee vote for Mike Pompeo now looks unlikely after two Democrats who supported him to become CIA director last year publicly refused to back his nomination to be secretary of state.
Foreign Relations Committee members Jeanne Shaheen and Tim Kaine have both expressed their concerns about his suitability for the role, meaning it is extremely unlikely he will have the panel’s endorsement when the full Senate votes on his nomination.
Senator Shaheen said in a statement on Tuesday she was unable to support Pompeo due to previous statements he has made on LGBT rights, American Muslims and women’s reproductive rights.
‘His previous roles are fundamentally different from that of Secretary of State, who represents American values around the world,’ she said.
‘The Secretary of State is a policymaking position and I continue to have deep concerns regarding Mr. Pompeo’s past statements and policy views.’
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (pictured on April 12) said in a statement on Tuesday she was unable to support Pompeo due to previous statements he has made on LGBT rights, American Muslims and women’s reproductive rights
Senator Tim Kaine also voted to confirm Pompeo to the CIA post last year, but said he will oppose him for the State Department.
‘I believe that Mike Pompeo would exacerbate President Trump’s weaknesses rather than uphold our diplomatic legacy,’ Kaine said in a statement.
The United States has been without a full-fledged secretary of state since March 22, when the fired Rex Tillerson’s duties were passed to a deputy.
Senator Bob Corker, who chairs the powerful foreign relations panel, has signalled a likely committee vote on Pompeo early next week, and he said the Trump administration was hoping for confirmation before a one-week Senate recess begins April 28.
‘It’s possible’ that the Senate will force a vote on Pompeo even if he fails to clear the committee with a majority, Corker told reporters.
Such a move would be quite rare, especially since the Senate historian’s office has said no secretary of state nominee has received an unfavorable committee vote since 1925.
‘But again the first step is to get through the committee, and we’ll see how that ends up.’
That vote is looking increasingly tough. The committee is made up of 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats. Republican Senator Rand Paul has already announced his opposition, while no Democrats have publicly declared their support.
Senator Tim Kaine also voted to confirm Pompeo to the CIA post last year, but said he will oppose him for the State Department
A handful of Democrats on the panel have said they will oppose Pompeo, whose nomination has come to be seen by some as a broader vote on President Donald Trump’s foreign policy positions.
Pompeo would need 51 votes in the 100-member chamber. Republicans hold 51 seats, but with Paul opposed and Senator John McCain away from Washington indefinitely as he battles brain cancer, at least some Democratic support would be needed to cross the finish line.
Pompeo met with foreign relations members in recent weeks, but has begun to reach out to other Democrats as well.
Moderate Democratic Senator Doug Jones said he could meet soon with Pompeo and had ‘an open mind’ about him.
The focus is expected to turn to a handful of Democrats who face re-election this November in states that Trump won in 2016, such as Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.
No secretary of state nominee has ever been rejected by the Senate. In US history, the Senate has only rejected nine Cabinet-level nominees.
Pompeo opposes gay marriage, which he once described as a ‘perversion’. He has also previously said he opposes abortion in all cases, including when the woman has been raped.
President Trump (pictured on Tuesday during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago) is said to be hoping for confirmation before a one-week Senate recess begins April 28
It came as news emerged that Pompeo traveled to North Korea to meet with leader Kim Jong Un.
The highly unusual, secret visit precedes a meeting between President Donald Trump and Kim within the next couple of months.
The officials spoke to the Associated Press about Pompeo’s trip on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.