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Former CIA Director Mike Pompeo Confirmed as 70th Secretary of State

The Senate voted 57-42 confirming CIA Director Mike Pompeo as the 70th Secretary of State on Thursday. In the committee vote precursor earlier this week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was the decisive vote only casting his ballot in support of Pompeo after further foreign policy discussions with the former U.S. Representative from Kansas and President Donald Trump.

“After calling continuously for weeks for Director Pompeo to support President Trump’s belief that the Iraq war was a mistake, and that it is time to leave Afghanistan, today I received confirmation that Director Pompeo agrees with President Trump,” Sen. Paul said explaining his decision to vote for rather than against an “outspoken foreign policy hawk.”

Pompeo’s nomination had been caught in marked partisan vitriol complete with speculator claims that Pompeo would be the first nominee for the position in American history to fail the confirmation process. An effort to force a discharge from the committee and require 60 votes for confirmation failed.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the tactics a “prime example of the historic partisan obstruction that my colleages across the aisle are visiting on the Senate.”

Nonetheless, the simple majority threshold was achieved with the help of five Trump state Democrats Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Joe Manchin (WV), Joe Donnelly (IN), Bill Nelson (FL) and Claire McCaskill (MO), who are all up for re-election this fall. Democratic Sen. Doug Jones (AL) and Independent Sen. Angus King (ME) also supported Pompeo, though the total is less than the number of Democrats who supported his confirmation to be CIA director just last year.

The Hill reports that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer broke from last year’s support of Pompeo because of the Russia investigation as well as allegedly “nasty comments” he says Pompeo made regarding American Muslims and individuals from South Asia.

The first test for Secretary of State Pompeo comes with the imminent nuclear negotiations between the United States and North Korea. Also, President Trump is also expected to announce May 12 whether or not America will exit the Iran nuclear deal forged by the Obama administration. From there, Pompeo will visit Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel “because of all that is going on,” Reuters reports State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters.

Shortly after the swearing in, Secretary Pompeo already had plans in place to fly to Brussels to join a NATO meeting as America’s top diplomat. Given his military background as a West Point cadet and tank commander as well as his candid friendship with President Trump honed during the daily intelligence briefings, Pompeo may be better prepared than former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, at least when it comes to navigating both the White House and the Pentagon.  Whether it will help him repair the politically fractured State Department and its Foreign Service is still to be determined. Political opponents of Pompeo are wary that he may be too in-step with the President.

Trump was predictably pleased with Pompeo’s confirmation, saying in a statement, “Having a patriot of Mike’s immense talent, energy, and intellect leading the Department of State will be an incredible asset for our country at this critical time in history.”

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Sheena Hutchison

Sheena Hutchison is a political and media analyst with nearly a decade of experience specializing in providing media and policy articulation on domestic and national security issues.

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