A US Senate committee voted along party lines Monday to send the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be US President Donald Trump’s secretary of state to the full Senate for a vote.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted favourably recommend Pompeo, who currently is serving as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Trump named Pompeo last month after firing Rex Tillerson.
The vote was closely watched because Pompeo was at risk of not winning a majority, which would have been a rare rebuke of a nominee for the job of secretary of state. Other recent nominees have received the unanimous backing of the committee.
The nomination went through only after a snag caused by the absence of Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, who was away attending a funeral. Democrats objected to allowing a proxy vote, meaning the first round vote was a 10-10 tie.
The vote changed to a majority for Pompeo after one of the Democrats on the committee agreed to vote “present” at the urging of committee Chairman Bob Corker, who lamented the partisan atmosphere on the committee.
One Republican, Senator Rand Paul, voted yes after saying last week that he planned to break ranks and join all 10 Democrats in voting no. He told the committee he had been given assurances from the president that Pompeo has “incorporated the idea that the Iraq war was a mistake.”
Pompeo is expected to become secretary of state when the full Senate votes later this week. Republicans hold a thin majority in the chamber, and a few Democrats have said they will vote yes.
Members of the Senate who oppose Pompeo for the top State Department job say he is too hawkish and too socially conservative.
Pompeo already has begun laying the groundwork for a Washington-Pyongyang summit expected to take place in May or June. He recently met secretly with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the White House confirmed last week.(dpa/NAN)