The Senate will vote Thursday afternoon on the nominations of CIA Director Mike Pompeo for secretary of state and Richard Grenell for U.S. Ambassador to Germany.
The vote for Pompeo will take place at noon, and the vote for Grenell will take place at 1:45 p.m., an aide to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) announced.
Their confirmations will score a huge victory for President Trump. Pompeo is close to Trump and is believed to share his foreign policy views, particularly on the Iran nuclear deal.
Grenell is Trump’s first prominent openly gay nominee, will fill the important role of America’s representative in Germany, and is seen as a supporter of the president’s calls for reforming NATO. His confirmation has been stonewalled by Democrats, despite being supported by gay rights groups.
Although a confirmation vote for secretary of state has been uncontroversial in recent history, a number of Democratic leaders have lined up against Pompeo as part of a strategy of obstruction ahead of the 2018 mid-term elections.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) initially opposed Pompeo’s nomination, citing his support for U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) absence, it meant that Pompeo would be one short of the 50 needed to confirm him and would need at least one Democratic vote.
A number of Democratic leaders came out in opposition, jeopardizing the confirmation. However, last week, red state Democrats facing tough election fights — Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-MT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) — stepped forward.
Paul announced earlier this week that he had reversed his opposition after speaking multiple times with Trump and Pompeo, meaning Pompeo should have plenty of support, although not by historical standards.
Corker lamented the partisanship on Monday as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee considered the nomination.
“I understand the climate that we are in. I understand the polarization that we have as a nation. And I am hopeful that yet, this evening, that we are going to do something positive for our nation and handle ourselves in a manner that sends the right signal,” he said.