More Senate Democrats have announced they oppose President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, making it all but certain he will not have the Foreign Relations Committee’s endorsement when the full Senate votes on confirmation, possibly next week.
“His [Pompeo’s] clear record of favoring military action over diplomacy is worrying,” Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy told reporters Wednesday. “I have faith that Secretary [of Defense James] Mattis is sober about the utility of military action abroad. I don’t think the same of [National Security Adviser] John Bolton or Mike Pompeo.”
Murphy is one of 10 Democrats on the 21-member Senate Foreign Relations Committee. All have either formally announced they will vote against Pompeo or signaled they are leaning against supporting the nomination.
“I will cast a NO vote for Director Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State,” ranking Democrat Bob Menendez of New Jersey tweeted. “Director Pompeo did little to assuage my concerns about the administration’s deafening lack of strategic vision for any of our major global challenges.”
Majority Republicans outnumber Democrats by one vote on the committee, but Kentucky Republican Rand Paul announced his opposition to Pompeo shortly after Trump nominated him last month, making an 11-10 committee vote opposing the nomination an increasingly likely possibility.
Pompeo’s Republican backers insist they remain confident of the ultimate outcome.
“I’m not concerned,” Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton said on a conference call with reporters. “Mike Pompeo will be confirmed as the next secretary of state.”
Last year, the Senate confirmed Pompeo to head the CIA by a 66-32 vote, with 15 Democrats backing the nomination. Republicans are betting at least two Democrats will vote to confirm him again, offsetting Paul’s “no” vote and the likely absence of Arizona Republican John McCain.
Cotton said he doubted moderate Democrats “who are facing re-election in states that our president [Trump] won by a landslide [in 2016] are going to oppose an obviously qualified nominee for whom they voted last year.”
At his confirmation hearing last week, Pompeo repeatedly stated his commitment to diplomacy and his intention to rebuild the State Department, which is weathering a record number of vacancies in the Trump era.
The testimony did not sway Murphy, who indicated his concerns about Pompeo outweigh the latitude senators traditionally give to presidents to pick their team.
“Tough call,” the Connecticut Democrat said. “I do believe in deference to the administration. But I think when you’re talking about matters of war and peace, it’s OK to have a higher standard, a higher bar.”