North Dakota Democrat Sen. Heidi Heitkamp saved Mike Pompeo’s nomination for secretary of state on Thursday when she came out in favor of confirming him – bucking her own party.
“Pompeo demonstrated during this nomination process and during our meeting in March that he is committed to empowering the diplomats at the State Department so they can do their jobs in advancing American interests,” she said in a statement Thursday.
Her statement came as Pompeo’s confirmation hung in limbo, with Republicans needing at least one Democratic vote to get him confirmed.
Although there are 51 Republicans in the Senate, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has staunchly opposed Pompeo’s nomination, and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is recovering from brain cancer treatment, leaving the GOP tally at 49 — one short needed to confirm him.
President Trump had worked on the sidelines to get Pompeo confirmed, convincing Paul to meet with Pompeo on Thursday, and using Twitter to urge his confirmation.
He tweeted Thursday afternoon: “Mike Pompeo is outstanding. First in his class at West Point. A top student at Harvard Law School. A success at whatever he has done. We need the Senate to approve Mike ASAP. He will be a great Secretary of State!”
Mike Pompeo is outstanding. First in his class at West Point. A top student at Harvard Law School. A success at whatever he has done. We need the Senate to approve Mike ASAP. He will be a great Secretary of State!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 19, 2018
Heitkamp is facing a tough reelection fight in November, in a state that Trump won by double-digits. Her seat was listed by CNN as most likely to flip in 2018.
Other vulnerable Democratic senators include Sens. Joe Manchin (WV), Claire McCaskill (MO), and Jon Tester (MT). They have not yet indicated how they would vote on Pompeo’s nomination.
A vote for Pompeo could happen as early as next week.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee scheduled a committee vote for Pompeo for Monday at 5:00 p.m. Even if Paul, who sits on the committee, votes against Pompeo, his nomination would still advance to the Senate floor.
Other Democrats have been lining up against Pompeo. So far three senior Democrats have come in opposition — Sen. Jack Reed (RI), top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee; Sen. Ben Cardin (MD), top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and Sen. Bob Menendez (NJ), senior member of former top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Democrats Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (NH) and Sen. Cory Booker (NJ) have also come out against Pompeo.