It’s starting to look like Mike Pompeo might not get a favorable vote from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to support his nomination as secretary of state, after three Democrats (and at least one Republican) on the panel have signaled they’ll vote against the current CIA director.
Nominations can advance to full confirmation without a favorable recommendation from committee, but it is relatively uncommon.
But is this the first time? According to the Senate historian’s office, there are no instances of a secretary of state nominee receiving an unfavorable committee vote since 1925.
Prior to the mid to late 1920s, nearly all executive Senate committee business was done in closed session, so there was no public record for these actions, the office added.
There have been nominees who came out of committee without recommendation, but were then confirmed, including:
In the Judiciary Committee
- Clarence Thomas (Associate Justice of the Supreme Court)
- J Leon Holmes (District Judge)
In the Foreign Relations Committee
- M Larry Lawrence (Ambassador to Switzerland)
In the Rules and Administration Committee
- Steven Walther (FEC)
According to a Congressional Research Service report, from 1987-2016, no nominee was confirmed after being reported unfavorably by a committee.
In 1989, John Tower was reported unfavorably by the Armed Services Committee and then rejected to be defense secretary by the Senate 47-53.
And In 2005, John Bolton — now serving as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser — was reported without recommendation by the Foreign Relations Committee, and then rejected twice on cloture votes to be the US ambassador to the UN before recess appointed.
In interviews with CNN, Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine and Jeanne Shaheen — who sit on the panel and backed Pompeo’s nomination to be CIA director — say they are harboring concerns with the nominee, a clear signal they may vote against him.
In addition, Republican Rand Paul also told CNN that the hearing “really solidified” his opposition to Pompeo.