WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, presided over committee consideration of Mike Pompeo’s nomination to serve as Secretary of State. The committee favorably reported the nomination to the full Senate for consideration. The committee also approved Thomas J. Hushek for Ambassador to South Sudan and Kirsten Dawn Madison for Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
Corker’s remarks at the business meeting before the vote on Pompeo’s nomination are included below.
“Today, we will consider the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be the next Secretary of State. We we’re also going to consider two other nominations and five foreign service officer lists.
“I’m going to make some comments about our nominee and going to ask Senator Menendez to do the same. And I would ask other members who wish to speak to the nomination to do so when the actual vote takes place. I know that most everyone has sent out a statement. Hopefully not everyone will need to speak. I certainly want to accommodate people who wish to do so.
“Before speaking in support of our Secretary of State nominee. I want to talk a little bit about our committee very briefly.
“This committee was established in 1816 as one of the original standing committees of the Senate. We hold jurisdiction over legislation concerning the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, including foreign assistance, treaties, declarations of war, among other matters.
“We are also responsible for oversight of the State Department and review of executive branch nominations that carry out U.S. diplomacy, including the Secretary of State.
“And as we know, I mean this committee has been an island in a sea of partisanship. We have continued to conduct our business in a very bipartisan way. Always, always beginning with Republicans and Democrats working together to come to a good end.
“I want to give a little history on nomination votes.
“John Kerry was confirmed by a vote of 94 to 3 on the Senate floor. This committee favorably reported his nomination unanimously.
“Hillary Clinton was confirmed by a vote of 94 to 2 on the Senate floor. We voted her out 16 to 1.
“Condoleezza Rice was confirmed by a vote of 85 to 13 on the Senate floor. This committee favorably reported her nomination 16-2.
“And both this committee and the full Senate unanimously voted in favor of Colin Powell’s nomination.
“Now to our nominee and to his qualifications.
“He graduated first in his class from West Point, first in his class.
“He served our nation in uniform as a cavalry officer, patrolling the Iron Curtain before the fall of the Berlin Wall. And as he testified in this committee, it was there he learned the power of diplomacy and the effect we can have on the world through appropriate diplomacy.
“I think all of us know those men and women who’ve worn the uniform, the people we hold on the highest pedestal. We know they more than anyone respect diplomacy, because they know if it is successful, it’s the thing that keeps our men and women out of harm’s way. Mike Pompeo knows that. He stated that clearly with conviction, and I think we all know that.
“He graduated from Harvard Law School, having been an editor of the Harvard Law Review. That was after serving in the military.
“He founded his own company, serving as CEO for more than a decade, and later served as president of a second company.
“He was elected four times to the House of Representatives where he served the people of Kansas in the fourth district.
“Let me say this, I know that some things have been said about comments made during his service and on campaigns. I would imagine that all of us have said some things in hot moments.
“I have to believe, absolutely, that Secretary Clinton when she ran for president, Secretary Kerry when he ran for president, had to have said some things that maybe would have met the objection on the other side of the aisle. But they were confirmed overwhelmingly.
“For the past 15 months, he has served our nation as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
“There is probably no one in the United States that knows more about what is happening around the world today than Mike Pompeo.
“He’s developed a culture there. He meets with the employees there. We know the State Department has tremendous issues right now with culture. We know that. And we know he’s built the kind of culture at the C.I.A. where the employees are at the State Department are anxious to have him there. They know what he has done at the C.I.A. Many people on both sides of the aisle have lavished praise on him for what he has done there. He knows how to develop the kind of culture at the State Department to leverage, to leverage - I have to say one other thing.
“The last two Secretaries of States were my friends. I’m talking about in the previous administration. Actually, the last three Secretaries of State have been my friends.
“One of the things that they have lacked, I think it is widely acknowledged, is they didn’t really have a good relationship with the president. Each of them made sure we knew that they felt differently about what was happening than what was happening.
“So this will be the first time in four nominees that we actually have a nominee that has a relationship with the president where the president listens to what they have to say. So, with that, I just want to say, I cannot imagine – and maybe I’ve overstated that last point – let me just put it this way, he has a very good relationship with the president. That is somewhat different than the last three secretaries of state that we have had.
“I cannot imagine having someone more qualified to be Secretary of State.
“I know what the outcome is possibly going to be here. And there’s a lot I could say, but I don’t want to say it. I don’t want to harden positions.
“We’ve got tremendous amounts of work to do together.
“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.
“There’s NATO meeting Friday. NATO meeting Friday. This will be the first time, I think, we will have not had a Secretary of State at a meeting like this in modern times.
“And so I am hopeful that tonight we’ll be successful in sending him out.
“I am hopeful that we will be successful on the floor this week in confirming him.
“I strongly support this nominee.
“I cannot imagine us having a more currently qualified Secretary of State. And I urge all of us to vote ‘yes.’ And with that I will turn to my friend. Our distinguished ranking member, Senator Menendez.”