White House officials urge Democrats to reconsider opposition to Pompeo ahead of Monday committee vote
April 23 at 10:28 AM Email the author
Senior White House officials on Monday urged Democrats and a key Republican to reconsider their positions on Mike Pompeoâs nomination as secretary of state ahead of what could be an unfavorable committee vote later in the day.
âWe certainly hope that some members will change their minds,â White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a morning interview on Fox News, in which she accused Democrats of playing âpolitical gamesâ with Trumpâs nomination of Pompeo, the current CIA director.
Shortly afterward, Trump took to Twitter, saying it was hard to believe that âObstructionistsâ might vote against his pick. Trump also complained more broadly that Democrats would not help in approving âhundreds of good peopleâ and were slowing down the confirmation process of his nominees. âNeed more Republicans!â the president wrote.
All Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as Republican senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), have signaled their opposition to Pompeoâs nomination. If they maintain their positions during a committee vote scheduled late Monday afternoon, Pompeoâs nomination will not have enough votes to be reported favorably to the full Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) could still bring up Pompeoâs nomination for a floor vote later in the week after getting around some procedural hurdles. A full Senate vote is expected to be very close.
If confirmed, Pompeo would become the first nominee to win a Cabinet post without a committee endorsement since 1945, according to the Senate Historical Office. That year, Henry Wallace was confirmed to serve as President Franklin D. Rooseveltâs commerce secretary without committee support.
âLook, at some point, Democrats have to decide whether they love this country more than they hate this president, and they have to decide whether they want to put the safety and the security and the diplomacy of our country ahead of their own political games, and weâre very hopeful that they will,â Sanders said.
Sanders also cast Pompeoâs nomination as key for ongoing negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear ambitions. Pompeo recently made headlines for his secret trip to North Korea over Easter weekend to meet with leader Kim Jong Un.
âTo stop that would be inÂcredÂibly dangerous and damaging for our country and for the world,â she said.
[Heitkamp becomes first Democrat to pledge support for Pompeo as secretary of state]
Asked about Paulâs committee vote in particular, Sanders encouraged the senator to continue to be a good ally to the president.
âRand Paul should have faith in the presidentâs decision,â she said. âHe should certainly be supportive of what the president is trying to do.â
Marc Short, the White House legislative director, said recent weeks have been âincredibly dishearteningâ as he has had private conversations with Democrats who say Pompeo is qualified but will not vote for him because of political considerations.
âTheyâre not showing courage in doing what they know is right,â Short said of Democrats during an appearance on CNN.
Both Short and Sanders pointed to widespread support from Republicans for President Obamaâs nominations of Hillary Clinton and John F. Kerry as secretary of state during the Democratâs tenure.
During his 5Â½-hour confirmation hearing this month, Pompeo was grilled by every Democratic member of the committee, as well as Paul. Many senators questioned whether Pompeo would stand up to the president on matters such as ripping up the nuclear deal with Iran or opening talks with North Korea â" or whether he would simply approve the presidentâs predilect ions to stay in his good graces.
Last week, North Dakotaâs Heidi Heitkamp became the first Senate Democrat to announce she would support Pompeoâs bid to become secretary of state. GOP leaders seem confident that some other Democrats will join Heitkamp, and they have been targeting those with difficult reelection battles this year in states that Trump carried in 2016.
After the Senate considers Pompeoâs nomination, two other Trump nominees could have tough confirmation battles: Gina Haspel to be the next CIA director and Ronny Jackson to be the next head of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Karoun Demirjian contributed to this report.Source: Google News