Senate panel approves Mike Pompeo for secretary of state

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 18: CIA Director Mike Pompeo smiles as he walks to a meeting with Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) on Capitol Hill April 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump has nominated Pompeo to become the next Secretary of State. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with a favorable recommendation, narrowly avoiding a rare rebuke as his confirmation heads to the full Senate.

Democrats put up stiff resistance and voted against Pompeo, who is now the CIA director. Only a last-minute switch from Kentucky Republican Rand Paul — whom President Trump called before the vote — enabled Pompeo to win committee approval.

It would have been the first time since the committee starting keeping records in 1925 that a secretary of state nominee faced an unfavorable report.

Pompeo’s nomination now goes to the full Senate, where votes are tallying in his favor. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he looks forward to voting to confirm Pompeo this week.