Marc Short: Democrats are being pressured to vote against Mike Pompeo

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It would be the first time in years that a nomination for such a high-level Cabinet position did not receive backing at the committee level.

Rather than allow an unfavorable vote on the panel, where Republicans have a one-seat majority, senators could choose not to issue a recommendation to the full Senate - which is expected to consider his nomination later this week regardless of the committee decision. Rand Paul have announced they oppose making Pompeo the country's top diplomat. Both, however, found reasons to support Pompeo's confirmation, owing to his qualifications and the need for the State Department to have capable leadership.

"We are in an era where somebody like this, who is qualified, unfortunately, is likely to be voted out without recommendation or with a negative recommendation", Sen. "I understand that", said Corker.

But Democrats argue that the job of America's top diplomat - fourth in line to the presidency - is vastly different from Central Intelligence Agency chief. "I believe Director Pompeo is capable of advancing USA interests and leading the State Department, and I will support his nomination". Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., became the first Democrat to come out in favor of Pompeo. "The American people deserve better".

During his 5½-hour confirmation hearing this month, Pompeo was grilled by every Democratic member of the committee, as well as Paul.

Schatz said he is voting against confirming Pompeo because he has "an alarming tendency towards military provocation and brinkmanship".

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Menendez also said he was disillusioned that Pompeo had concealed, in private conversations, his then-secret trip to North Korea over the Easter weekend.

Backers point to Pompeo's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un as proof he believes in diplomacy, and say the United States needs the top diplomat's role to be filled as quickly as possible amid burgeoning world crises. It was Kim's first meeting with a US official.

"Pompeo won't challenge the president in critical moments", Democratic Senator Chris Coons, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted on Friday.

"I realize my Democratic friends in many cases feel like that in supporting Pompeo, it's a proxy for support of the Trump administration policies, which many of them abhor".

Trump has said he was doing some last-minute lobbying to bring Paul back to the fold, however. A full Senate vote is expected to be very close. Her support likely would ensure that Pompeo meets the 51-vote threshold needed for confirmation.

Trump has threatened to abandon the accord on May 12, when the next deadline for sanctions renewal comes up. He would replace Rex Tillerson, the former oil executive who was sacked in March after a very rocky relationship with the White House and a management approach that left the State Department understaffed and demoralized.