Washington, Apr 26 (EFE).- The US Senate on Thursday confirmed departing CIA Director Mike Pompeo as secretary of state by the second-lowest margin in half a century.
The vote to confirm the outspoken foreign policy hawk was 57-42, just slightly better than last year’s 56-43 tally in favor of predecessor Rex Tillerson, who was fired last month by President Donald Trump.
While the Republicans have only a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate, Democrats Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana said ahead of time that they would vote to confirm Pompeo’s nomination.
Heitkamp and Manchin face re-election in November in states where Trump won by a wide margin in 2016.
Opponents were very critical of Pompeo during the confirmation process, expressing fears that he would encourage Trump’s bellicose instincts rather than seek to restrain them.
Democrats also recalled one of the controversies that surrounded Pompeo’s earlier nomination to head the CIA, when he was challenged about labeling leaders of Muslim communities in the United States as “potential accomplices” to terrorism.
Pompeo faces the challenge of making the State Department relevant again after it has been largely relegated to the sidelines under Trump.
In practical terms, the new secretary will need to fill a large number of vacant diplomatic posts, including that of ambassador to South Korea.
The administration recently revealed that Pompeo traveled to North Korea last month for talks with Kim Jong-un ahead of a summit between the two presidents.