The Senate voted to confirm CIA Director Mike Pompeo to be the Secretary of State on Thursday with a comfortable vote of 54-41.
The swearing-in ceremony was expected right after the vote, according to the New York Times. Pompeo would then race to a plane waiting to take him to Belgium for a NATO meeting.
Pompeo managed to score one of the most significant achievements for an American diplomat in the North Korean crisis before he was confirmed. According to President Donald Trump, Pompeo secretly met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un earlier this month.
“Having a patriot of Mike’s immense talent, energy, and intellect leading the Department of State will be an incredible asset for our country at this critical time in history,” Trump said in a statement. “He will always put the interests of America first. He has my trust. He has my support.”
Trump nominated Pompeo for the job upon firing Rex Tillerson, who served as secretary of state since Trump’s nomination. Pompeo’s replacement at the CIA, Gina Haspel, became the first woman nominated to head the agency after Trump announced her selection.
Several Democrats running for re-election in states won by Trump voted for Pompeo. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat representing North Dakota, was the first to announce she intended to confirm Pompeo. Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana also promised their votes.
Pompeo enters his role as the top American diplomat amid a rapidly changing geopolitical landscape, with major political shifts in North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela, and China.
The deadline for Trump to renew the Iran deal is approaching and the president is expected to meet with Kim in May or June.
Meanwhile, the relationship with Moscow, in Trump’s own words, is at worse-than-Cold War levels. The United States issued several rounds of sanctions against Russia. The latest sanctions targeted Russian billionaires and their companies and caused the Russian stock market to collapse and the ruble to plummet.
In Saudi Arabia, Trump has forged a surprise alliance which has led to a battery of historic changes. The oil-rich nation became a key military ally in the Middle East alongside Israel.
“From North Korea’s nuclear threats to Iran’s aggression, Mike’s confirmation as Secretary of State comes at a critical time for U.S. foreign policy,” said Ed Royce (R-CA), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “In times such as these, it’s clear that we need a stronger, more vibrant State Department to work with and lead our other national security agencies.”
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