After Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) decided to support President Donald Trump's Secretary of State pick Mike Pompeo at the last minute in a "cowardly flip-flop," the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday voted along party lines to advance Pompeo to the full Senate with a favorable recommendation.
"Rather than act as a check against Trump and a dangerous new Middle East escalation, these senators are granting the president a war cabinet."
—Jamal Abdi, NIAC Action
"In voting to recommend Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted against diplomacy today, and for a foreign policy even more inclined towards war," Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action said in a statement following the vote. "Pompeo's record of warmongering, climate denial, and Islamophobia speaks for itself."
In the days leading up to Monday's vote, Pompeo was widely expected to advance to the full Senate without a favorable recommendation from the Foreign Relations Committee. But Paul's sudden reversal after repeated vows to oppose Pompeo gave Republicans on the committee just enough votes for approval, even in the face of united Democratic opposition.
Welp. Pompeo's war and torture is Rand Paul's war and torture now. https://t.co/Us2i15sWxF
— emptywheel (@emptywheel) April 23, 2018
Next question: Will he flip on Haspel, too? https://t.co/4IrbsnkAnh
— Katie Bo Williams (@KatieBoWill) April 23, 2018
The process did hit a slight snag as senators prepared for the final vote on Monday, however, as Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) was absent, requiring him to vote "yes" by proxy. Under Senate rules, a committee member who is not present cannot cast the decisive vote.
While Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) suggested holding off on the final vote until later Monday night when Isakson could attend, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.)—who initially voted "no"—decided to change his vote to "present," allowing Pompeo's nomination to promptly sail through with the committee's stamp of approval.
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The final vote was 11-9 along party lines, with Coons voting "present" and Isakson voting "yes" by proxy. A vote before the full Senate—where Pompeo has the support of three Democrats—is expected later this week.
Watch the Foreign Relations Committee's vote:
NEW: Mike Pompeo receives 11 positive votes to move his nomination to the Senate floor—but one member wasn't present, leaving the vote a tie and the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a temporary impasse. https://t.co/NkJuIoh4fP pic.twitter.com/lIq1Vjn77t
— ABC News (@ABC) April 23, 2018
In a statement reacting to the committee's decision to approve Pompeo, Jamal Abdi, executive director of National Iranian American Council (NIAC) Action, said, "The Senate may have just blown its last chance to stop Trump from exiting the Iran deal and the catastrophe that will follow."
"Rather than act as a check against Trump and a dangerous new Middle East escalation, these senators are granting the president a war cabinet," Abdi added. "The first consequence of Pompeo becoming Secretary of State will likely be a U.S. decision to exit the Iran deal on May 12. This could set of a chain reaction of events that Pompeo, [national security adviser John] Bolton, and Trump may attempt to exploit and will very likely mishandle dangerously."