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'Should Be a No-Brainer': Progressives Urge Democrats to Muster Guts to Block Pompeo

"Democrats—who have spent a full year re-branding themselves as the resistance to Trump—have the power to stop this Trump nominee. Will they?"

Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo, thanks Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), for his comments during his confirmation hearing before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill, on April 12, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

As President Donald Trump's torture-supporting secretary of state pick Mike Pompeo testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday—amid a flood of opposition from anti-war groups, environmentalists, and LGBTQ rights organizations—commentators and activists have argued that the only remaining question is whether Democrats will follow the lead of progressive activists and block Pompeo, or ignore their base and rubber-stamp yet another disastrous Trump nominee.

Writing ahead of Pompeo's Senate hearing on Wednesday, The Intercept's Ryan Grim noted that the GOP only holds a one-member advantage in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and "with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) having already announced his opposition, that means a united Democratic front could reject Pompeo in committee."

"Pompeo's confirmation is far from certain. United opposition from Senate Dems can block him from Trump's War Cabinet."
—5 Calls
It will not be the first time Senate Democrats have been forced to vote on whether Pompeo—a "committed Islamophobe," climate denier, and war hawk—should head one of the government's most prominent departments.

Last year, 14 Democrats—including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.)—joined every Republican except Paul in voting to confirm Pompeo as CIA chief.

At least one Democrat who voted to confirm Pompeo last year, Sen. Brian Shatz (D-Hawaii), has admitted he was wrong to do so and vowed to oppose him this time around, citing his "alarming tendency towards military provocation and brinkmanship."

Ultimately, Grim argues, the best way for Democrats to block Pompeo's confirmation may be to ensure he is voted down in committee, which will require every Democrat to vote no.

"A nominee can still be brought to the floor for a vote despite having been shot down in committee, but nobody has been successfully confirmed that way in at least 40 years," Grim observed. "A loss in committee could make it easier for moderate Democrats to vote against Pompeo."

As Pompeo attempted to insist during his opening statement during Thursday's hearing that he is not, in fact, a hawk—contradicting his lengthy record of calling for regime change in North Korea and Iranmore than 180 advocacy groups nationwide urged Americans to keep up the pressure on Democratic senators to stop his confirmation.

"This should be a no-brainer," MoveOn.org spokesperson Karthik Ganapathy told The Intercept, highlighting in particular Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who voted to confirm Pompeo as CIA director. "Not only is it good policy for Sen. Feinstein to oppose a warmongering extremist as the next leader of our nation's diplomats, it's also smart politics."

In a statement ahead of Pompeo's Senate hearing on Thursday, Win Without War director Stephen Miles highlighted the widespread grassroots opposition to Pompeo and urged Senate Democrats to stop a man with such "aversion to diplomacy" from becoming America's top diplomat.

"More than 180 national organizations representing tens of millions of Americans and diverse communities across the country and covering a wide swath of issues—from national security and women’s health, to climate change and human rights—have now publicly opposed Pompeo's nomination," Miles said. "And it's no wonder Pompeo has garnered such strong opposition...he is simply unfit to represent the United States on the world stage."

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