Key Congressional panel confirms Pompeo as the Secretary of State

Washington: President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state Mike Pompeo today narrowly won a key Congressional panel nod after a leading Republican senator supported him at the last minute, paving the way for the CIA director to become America’s top diplomat.

The nomination of 54-year-old Pompeo now heads to the Senate for a vote on his confirmation.

Pompeo, if confirmed by the Senate, would replace Rex Tillerson as the Secretary of State. Tillerson was fired by Trump last month.

During a tense Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting, Pompeo was voted 11-9. In addition to all the Republican Senators, Senator Chris Coons was the only Democratic Senator to have voted in support of Pompeo.

The White House welcomed the passage of the nomination.

“With Secretary of State-designate Mike Pompeo’s favorable report from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the American people are one step closer to having their top diplomat in place at a critical time in our history,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.

“Under President Donald J. Trump’s leadership, the United States is on a path toward a safer, more prosperous future. Secretary-designate Pompeo is an integral part of the President’s vision going forward. We look forward to the full Senate confirming him in the coming days, Sanders said.

Coons displayed a “statesmanship that I’m not accustomed to seeing in the Senate,” said Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Earlier in the day, Republican Senator Rand Paul, who had earlier announced to oppose Pompeo, said that he has now changed his mind and would support the nomination.

“Having received assurances from President Trump and Director Pompeo that he agrees with the President on these important issues, I have decided to support his nomination to be our next Secretary of State,” Paul said.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio welcomed the development.

“CIA Director Mike Pompeo has the full confidence of the President, an outstanding record of service to our country, and is more than qualified to serve as Secretary of State. As Director Pompeo’s nomination now moves to the Senate Floor, I strongly urge my colleagues to put country over party and confirm him without further delay,” he said.

Senator Johnny Isakson, a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, who voted by proxy said that Pompeo is prepared to lead the State Department.

“Employees at the CIA have given Mike Pompeo high marks for his performance, his support for the workforce and advocacy for their mission. The State Department needs that same energy, fire and purposeful direction today, at a time when our country faces numerous threats and challenges that demand strong diplomacy,” he said.

“Pompeo has already stepped into a leadership role in delicate negotiations on North Korea and I expect him to remain committed to leveraging our unique assets and employing US diplomatic leadership as much as possible to achieve our goals. I believe Mike Pompeo is prepared to lead,” Isakson said.

On the Senate Floor, Senator John Cornyn said that defeating a Secretary of State nominee would be extraordinary, historically speaking, and it would send a terrible message to American friends and allies around the world.

“Every Secretary of State nominee since 1925 has been reported out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee favourably. For the ones who flip-flopped in the matter of a year on Mike Pompeo as a human being, as a public servant, and as somebody well-trained and well-prepared to be the nation’s top diplomat, I just simply don’t understand how they can reconcile those two polar opposite positions,” he added.