The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to forward the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state after Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky did a 180 degree turn and backed him.
The panel voted to send the nomination to the floor with its positive recommendation by a vote of 11 to 9, with one lawmaker voting ‘present,’ with all Republicans voting in favor.
The reason for the odd vote is that one of the ‘yay’ votes was from absent Monday. Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia voted by proxy, which prevented the majority – at least temporarily – from moving the nomination forward.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. had threatened to block the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state. He announced his support on Monday
Ultimately, Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware agreed to vote ‘present’ even though he opposed the nomination to allow it to move ahead on the desired schedule.
Paul, a Republican, did an abrupt about-face on the nomination just hours before the vote.
President Trump – who had predicted Paul would vote his way – said Monday that Paul – whom he mocked during the campaign as ‘truly weird’ and a ‘spoiled brat’ – ‘never let us down. The president added: ‘He’s a good man.’
Paul announced his flip in a series of tweets, where he said he got new assurances both from President Trump and from Pompeo.
His support forecast the chance Republicans would muster an 11-10 majority, which would let them enough votes to report the nomination with a favorable recommendation.
‘After calling continuously for weeks for Director Pompeo to support President Trump’s belief that the Iraq war was a mistake, and that it is time to leave Afghanistan, today I received confirmation the Director Pompeo agrees with @realDonaldTrump,’ Paul tweeted Monday afternoon in advance of the vote.
Headed to the floor: In this file photo taken on April 12, 2018 US Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC
Paul announced the flip on Twitter
Paul said he spoke to Trump several times Monday
COME TO THINK OF IT … Paul did the switch after getting ‘assurances’ from President Trump
FIRE UP THE JETS! Paul said Pompeo agrees it is time to leave Afghanistan
‘Having received assurances from President Trump and Director Pompeo that he agrees with the President on these important issues, I have decided to support his nomination to be our next Secretary of State,’ Paul wrote.
Pompeo also got the support of Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who also joined all other panel Republicans.
Paul had been unequivocal in his opposition to Pompeo.
‘I’m going to do everything I can to block them,’ he said of Pompeo and Gina Haspell, Trump’s nominee to replace him at the CIA.
After the SNAFU over Isakson’s absence, panel chair Bob Corker pleaded with colleagues to find a work-around.
At the committee meeting, Corker urged a Democrat to vote ‘present’ to let the Pompeo go forward with a positive recommendation – hoping to avoid a late-night vote or an early vote Tuesday that interfered with the floor.
‘Just vote present. We could vote our CIA director out on a positive vote, a positive recommendation,’ Corker pleaded. ‘That is the will of the committee.’
He noted that Isakson, ‘one of our most respected members,’ couldn’t be there because he was out of town giving a eulogy for his best friend.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., the sole Republican who had earlier opposed President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, tells the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he is changing his vote to yes, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, April 23, 2018.
Democrats, who had been expecting to score a major win, even if only a temporary one, took immediate moves to try to stall the vote.
Robert Mendendez of New Jersey called for delay to let people express their views on such an important nomination.
‘Bring the coffee,’ quipped Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) at the hearing.
‘This is a deeply partisan action,’ fumed Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
Senator Rand Paul’s decision to vote for Pompeo’s nomination in the committee appeared to put it on course for approval on a party-line vote of 11-10.
While the full Senate was expected to approve the nomination even if the committee did not offer its backing, Paul’s switch means the nominee can avoid the embarrassment of being the first person nominated for the post known to fail to secure the panel’s endorsement.
‘I have decided to support his nomination to be our next Secretary of State,’ Paul said on Twitter.
Paul has been known to threaten opposition on major policy positions staked out by Trump, including healthcare reform, only to change his mind at the last minute. Trump recently expressed confidence that the senator from Kentucky would come around to support Pompeo.