Pompeo Confirmed to Secretary of State
On Thursday, the Senate approved Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, passing with a 57-42 vote.
Prior to his approval, Pompeo was the Trump Administration’s CIA Director. He was chosen to fill in the role after previous Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired last month. Shortly after Tillerson’s dismissal, President Trump tweeted, “Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State.”
A student at the West Point Academy, Pompeo went on to serve in the Army before being elected to Congress in 2010. He represented Kansas’s 4th District for three terms, and was a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence and Select Committee on Benghazi.
When the news first broke, Pompeo received skepticism from both sides of the isle for his previous comments. Pompeo’s support for keeping the U.S prison at Guantanamo Bay open, along with his defense of the CIA’s use of torture and controversial statements on Muslims, contributed to concerns amongst congressional members.
Prior to the vote on the Senate floor, Pompeo was met with opposition while testifying under the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this week. Initially joining the Democrats on the panel in voicing his disapproval of the candidate was Rand Paul (R-KY), a Republican who often splits with his party on issues of foreign policy. However, after discussions behind closed doors, Senator Paul reversed his previous remarks, tweeting that he had “received assurances” that Pompeo would agree with the President on critical issues such as the Iran deal.
Had Senator Paul voted alongside the Democrats to disapprove Pompeo, he would have been the first secretary of state nominee to not gain the approval of the Committee. However, a committee’s approval is not necessary to bring a vote onto the Senate floor.
Regardless of the Committee’s voting result, Pompeo was likely to be confirmed, with several red-state Democrats backing the nominee. Facing a tough reelection in 2018, Senator Heidi Heitkamp said, “Pompeo demonstrated during our meeting in March that he is committed to empowering the diplomats at the State Department so they can do their jobs in advancing American interests.” Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN), also added, “I believe Director Pompeo is capable of advancing U.S. interests and leading the State Department.”
With the Senate’s confirmation, Pompeo will be tasked with a host of important foreign policy issues, among them, North Korea. With President Trump planning to visit Kim Jong-Un in the near future to discuss the possibility of denuclearization, Pompeo visited the North Korean leader during Easter to establish preliminary connections. Photos of the two individuals shaking hands were released by the White House late Thursday.
Pompeo presence on the international stage will expand, as he will play a key role in other current affairs involving the United States. Pompeo will likely be a big voice amongst the president’s circle on the ongoing conflict in Syria, as well as plans for the Iran Nuclear Deal, the deadline for which is fast approaching.