US President Donald Trump's choice for secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with a favorable recommendation, narrowly avoiding a rare rebuke as his confirmation heads to the full Senate.
Democrats put up stiff resistance and voted against Pompeo, who is now the CIA director. Only a last-minute switch from Kentucky Republican Rand Paul — whom Trump called before the vote — enabled Pompeo to win committee approval.
It would have been the first time since the committee starting keeping records in 1925 that a secretary of state nominee faced an unfavorable report.
Pompeo's nomination now goes to the full Senate, where votes are tallying in his favor. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he looks forward to voting to confirm Pompeo this week.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, blamed partisan politics for opposition to Pompeo, now the CIA director, saying Pompeo is just as qualified as past secretaries of state nominees Hillary Clinton or John Kerry, both of whom received overwhelming support.
"We are in an era where somebody like this, who is qualified, unfortunately, is likely to be voted out without recommendation or with a negative recommendation," Corker said Sunday on "State of the Union" on CNN. "It's just sad that our nation has devolved politically to this point."
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders called on Democrats to support Pompeo Monday, saying on Fox News: "at some point Democrats have to decide whether they love this country, more than they hate this president."
Pompeo's confirmation before the full Senate now hangs in balance, with the votes of just a handful of senators determining whether he becomes the nation's top diplomat after Trump fired Rex Tillerson last month.
Updated Date: Apr 24, 2018 04:46:21 IST