The U.S. Senate on Thursday afternoon voted to approve the confirmation of Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) as the next director of national intelligence by a party-line vote of 49-44.
The vote comes after the Senate Intelligence Committee approved for Ratcliffe to take over the intelligence post from acting DNI Richard Grenell by an 8-7 vote. Under Grennell’s tenure, the U.S. official declassified a list of names of Obama administration officials who allegedly requested the “unmasking” of former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s identity.
Ahead of the upper chamber’s vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued a statement lauding Ratcliffe.
“Today, we’ll confirm the next Director of National Intelligence. John Ratcliffe will lead the Intelligence Community in countering threats from great powers, rogue nations, and terrorists — and ensuring that work is untainted by political bias,” said McConnell.
Ratcliffe, 54, has represented Texas’s 4th District since 2015 and has been a member of the House intelligence committee. He is a former U.S. attorney, federal terrorism prosecutor and mayor of Heath, Texas.
The director of national intelligence leads inter-agency cooperation between 16 agencies of the U.S. intelligence community.
Ratcliffe said earlier this month his primary focus is China and the origins of the coronavirus outbreak. He also said he won’t allow politics to interfere with his duties as top U.S. intelligence chief.
Ratcliffe would be the first permanent director of national intelligence since Dan Coats resigned last July.
This week’s vote occurred under new leadership on the Senate intelligence committee. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is now acting chairman after replacing Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), who resigned last week amid an FBI investigation into whether he broke the law when he sold off shares of stock early during the coronavirus crisis.
The UPI contribute to this developing report.