CAPITOL HILL —
The U.S. Senate continued Monday to fill President Trump’s national security team by confirming his pick for CIA director, Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo, and advancing his nominee for secretary of state, oil executive Rex Tillerson.
Confirmed by an overwhelming vote of 66-32, Pompeo joins Defense Secretary John Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly in the fledgling Trump administration.
Vice President Mike Pence administered the oath of office to Pompeo after the Senate confirmation vote.
Senators of both parties cited Pompeo’s service on the House Intelligence Committee as a reason to back his nomination.
“I can’t think of a member of Congress that has traveled more around the world, spent more time at the CIA, understanding the ins and outs of what they do, of how they do it, of why it’s important to the American people and to the security of this country than Mike Pompeo,” said Republican Richard Burr of North Carolina, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “He’s well versed on intelligence community operations, capabilities and authorities.”
“While Congressman Pompeo and I disagree on many issues, I believe he can be an effective leader at the CIA,” said Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia. “He has convinced me that he will follow the law banning torture [of terror suspects].”
Pompeo had criticized the Obama administration for ending so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” But at his confirmation hearing last week, he promised to follow U.S. law on the treatment of detainees.
Tillerson, meanwhile, received the backing of all Republicans and no Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where Republicans have a one-seat majority. His nomination now goes to the full Senate for a final confirmation vote, likely later this week.
Tillerson’s tenure as CEO of ExxonMobil proved to be a partisan point of disagreement as to whether he is a good choice to be America’s top diplomat.
“He’s managed the world’s eighth largest company by revenue with over 75,000 employees,” said the committee’s chairman, Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican. “Diplomacy has been a critical component of his positions in the past, and he has shown himself to be an exceptionally able and successful negotiator who has maintained deep relationships around the world.”
Democrats, by contrast, found Tillerson’s CEO