World Bulletin / News Desk
The powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee was expected Monday to oppose President Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, in an unprecedented rebuke that could unsettle delicate US negotiations with North Korea.
The White House pressured senators to endorse Pompeo, currently the CIA director, with Trump blasting Democrats as "obstructionists" and his spokeswoman Sarah Sanders accusing them of playing "political games" with the crucial cabinet post.
But the committee, with 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats, appeared set to vote against the nomination, with Republican maverick Rand Paul set to join all the Democrats in opposition.
"Hard to believe Obstructionists may vote against Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State. The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people," Trump tweeted early Monday.
"We certainly hope that some members will change their minds," Sanders said on Fox News.
"At some point, Democrats have to decide whether they love this country more than they hate this president. And they have to decide that they want to put the safety and the security and the diplomacy of our country ahead of their own political games."
Pompeo would become the first secretary of state-designate on record to be rejected by the committee, according to the Senate History Office.
Passage by the full Senate seems likely but not assured: approving a rejected nominee on the Senate floor hasn't happened since 1945.
With Paul voting against Pompeo, and senior Republican Senator John McCain ailing and unable to vote, the White House will need all other Republicans and at least one Democrat to win the vote.
Last week, Pompeo was on Capitol Hill lobbying for support, and Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp announced she would vote for him. Several other Democrats have left open the possibility of supporting Pompeo.
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