The Senate voted on Thursday to confirm Mike Pompeo as the nation’s 70th secretary of state.
The final tally was 57 to 42, with five Democrats and one independent siding with Republicans to approve the current CIA director’s nomination to his new post.
The Democrats voting to confirm Pompeo included Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Bill Nelson of Florida and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.
All are up for re-election this fall in states President Donald Trump won in 2016.
Pompeo was expected to be sworn in following the vote and then board a plane at Joint Base Andrews to head to a NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium.
The vote to confirm came after Pompeo faced the prospect of not receiving a positive referral from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week.
However, Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul switched his vote from “no” to “yes” shortly before the vote, citing assurances he received from Trump and Pompeo.
Pompeo easily sailed through his Senate confirmation as CIA director on the same day as Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.
The vote was 89 in favor, with only eight opposing, all of whom were Democrats.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders noted last week that confirmation of secretaries of the state in the past has been a broadly bipartisan undertaking, pointing specifically to the examples of Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, both of whom received the backing of 94 senators.
The White House spokesperson went on to highlight Pompeo’s credentials, noting he was “top of his class at Harvard (Law School). First in his class at West Point. He’s been an impeccable CIA director.”
Trump tweeted on Monday that Democrats in the Senate were opposing Pompeo purely for political reasons.
“Hard to believe Obstructionists May vote against Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State,” Trump said Monday via Twitter. “The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people, including the Ambassador to Germany. They are maxing out the time on approval process for all, never happened before. Need more Republicans!”
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters last week, “The trust that President Trump has in Director Pompeo, including having him represent the president and country in those initial talks with North Korea — that tells you how the president is already viewing Director Pompeo as the nation’s chief diplomat.”
In addition to the upcoming anticipated talks with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Trump also has to decide by May 12 if he will re-certify the Iran nuclear deal.
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