'Are You Kidding Me?'

Overwhelming Bipartisan Support For Secretaries Of State Was A Long-Standing Senate Tradition


SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman: “[M]y Democratic friends, who know that … the base, if you will, on the Left, will view this as a proxy vote in support of Trump, obviously are finding ways to not vote for him. This is very much against any kind of tradition that we’ve had here…. [A]nd there’s nothing in Pompeo’s past that, in any way, could possibly disqualify him from getting an up or down vote on the floor. And it should be overwhelming … I would just say to you and to everybody listening, and certainly my Democratic friends, are you kidding me? You don’t want someone like Mike Pompeo to go in with somebody like Secretary Mattis and ensure that the right kind of advice is given to our president … ?” (MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” 4/19/2018)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): “Hillary Clinton was nominated and confirmed in the Senate by a vote of 94 to 2. And I promise you that a significant number of the members on my side of the aisle may have respected Secretary Clinton but strongly disagreed with her and her views on a number of issues but nonetheless felt that the president deserved to have his nominee.” (Sen. Rubio, Floor Remarks, 4/19/2018)


‘Who In America Doesn't Think A President, Democrat Or Republican, Deserves His Or Her Picks For Who Should Run The Agencies? Nobody.’

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “Who in America doesn't think a president, Democrat or Republican, deserves his or her picks for who should run the agencies? Nobody.” (Sen. Schumer, Press Conference, 11/21/2013)

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ): “I look forward to a very strong bipartisan vote [on Sen. John Kerry] that sends a very clear message to the world: This is America's representative. This is our Secretary of State. I believe he has earned that vote and that respect through a lifetime of work and the tremendous collegiality he has had among Members on both sides of the aisle, including those who may not agree with him on any given issue but have always respected the manner in which he has approached that issue.” (Sen. Menendez, Congressional Record, S. 351, 1/29/2013)

THEN-SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA): “[I]t is essential that we provide the president with the tools and the resources he needs to effect change. That starts by making sure he has the national security team he has chosen in place as soon as possible.” (Sen. Kerry, Congressional Record, S. 674, 1/21/2009)


Prior To Last Year Secretaries Of State Were Routinely Confirmed With More Than 90 Votes

Secretary of State Nominee

Confirmation Vote

John Kerry


Hillary Clinton


Condoleezza Rice


Colin Powell

Voice Vote

Madeleine Albright


Warren Christopher

Voice Vote

James Baker



Senate Democrats Once Said: ‘The President, Regardless Of What Party They Are From, Needs … To Have The Team They Want To Put In Place’

SEN. TOM CARPER (D-DE): “For folks who might be watching this from afar, this body used to operate very differently than it does today. The President would nominate people to serve in a cabinet or to serve as judges and there would be hearings. There would be debate. Sometimes people would disagree. But, certainly, for Cabinet appointments and for sub-Cabinet level appointments, for the most part, the President got the team he, or someday she, asked for.… The President, regardless of what party they are from, needs, for the most part, to have the team they want to put in place. They have been elected to lead. Let's give them a chance to lead.” (Sen. Carper, Congressional Record, S. 827, 2/26/2013)

SEN TIM KAINE (D-VA): “I think we owe deference to a president for choices to executive positions, and I think that that is a very important thing to grapple with. The American public choose someone to be president, they're giving that individual a mandate to govern, and that mandate includes the assembly of the team that the president feels is the appropriate team. …I approach any executive nomination with that in mind.” (U.S. Senate, Armed Services Committee, Hearing, 2/12/2013)

SEN. ANGUS KING (I-ME): “…I think our role is not to substitute our judgment for the president, not to say this is who we would have necessarily hired. But the deference goes to the president to build his team.” (U.S. Senate, Armed Services Committee, Hearing, 2/12/2013)

SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO): “I am worried about the willingness of other Americans to put their hand up and say ‘Let me serve’ for fear that they will get caught in the crazy politics of the Senate.” (Sen. Bennet, Congressional Record, S.1647, 3/19/2015)



Related Issues: National Security, Senate Democrats, Nominations