Tim Kaine says he won’t back Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State
WASHINGTON – The Senate confirmation of Mike Pompeo is on shaky ground as Sen. Tim Kaine said Sunday he can’t support President Trump’s nominee for secretary of state.
“I’ve decided to vote against him to be secretary of state,” Kaine (D-Va.) told CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I did vote for him as CIA director. He has an intel background that I thought suited him for the position. But look, we have a president who is anti-diplomacy. And I worry that Mike Pompeo has shown the same tendency to oppose diplomacy.”
Kaine’s opposition means Pompeo may not have enough votes to pass out of the Foreign Relations Committee with a favorable recommendation.
There are procedural ways the Senate could still get Pompeo to a full floor vote, but that hasn’t been necessary for a secretary of state nominee for nearly 100 years, according to reports.
Pompeo faced nearly five hours of grilling at his confirmation hearing Thursday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Republicans hold a one-seat advantage on the panel — 11 seats to 10 for Democrats.
With Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul already a “no” vote, Pompeo needs at least one Democratic vote to get out of committee.
Pompeo’s most likely pick-ups were from Democratic committee members Kaine and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, who voted in favor of Pompeo’s CIA nomination last year.
Shaheen, however, expressed serious reservations about Pompeo during and after his confirmation hearing.
“There are fundamental areas of disagreement that we have, and I think that was true in the questioning,” Shaheen told CNN after the hearing. “So he answered some of those questions but from my perspective, he just gave the wrong answers.”
If all Democrats and Paul vote against Pompeo’s nomination in committee, the Trump administration would have an embarrassing setback.
President Trump could consider a new secretary of state nominee or GOP leadership could still move to bring Pompeo to the full Senate for a vote with the hope of getting Democratic support there.
He breezed through the Senate last year with a 66-32 bipartisan vote for CIA director, with 14 Democrats in support.
However, those Democrats say the role of secretary of state requires greater scrutiny as Pompeo’s job will be to ensure all diplomatic channels are exhausted before any potential war.
Even red-state Democrats up for reelection in Trump country are hesitant on whether they could confirm him again.