Yesterday, Senator John McCain expressed concern over President Trump's nomination of Gina Haspel to lead the CIA. Now, Senator Rand Paul announced that he will oppose both of Trump's recent nominations, reported The Hill.
He made the declaration on Wednesday, saying he opposes current CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State and CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel as the new leader of the CIA.
Paul made it clear that he will oppose the nominations and "do everything I can to block" them.
"My announcement today is that I will oppose both Pompeo's nomination and Haspel's nomination," Paul said.
He told Lesley Clark, a National Correspondent for McClatchy DC, that he will "absolutely" do everything and that filibusters are "not so bad."
"A debate over whether or not America is a country in favor of torture or not is an important one," he added.
Paul further explained his stance to Clark. He said he was “perplexed” that Trump had picked Pompeo given his support for “continued involvement in Iraq.” His comment on Haspel was more stringent, saying he was "troubled" by her nomination given her role in torture.
Paul was the only Republican to vote against Pompeo for CIA director when he was nominated to the position. His position on the nominations "complicates" things for the Republicans, said the Hill, "but doesn't unilaterally sink Pompeo's path to leading the State Department."
Republicans have an 11-10 advantage on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Paul is the key vote in this nomination.
If Paul votes no, as he's said he will—and every Democrat opposes Pompeo—then committee Chairman Bob Corker will be forced to decide if he'll move Pompeo's nomination to the floor anyway.
"It would be an unusual move, but Corker said last year that ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would also get a vote before the full Senate even if his panel split. At the time, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was viewed as a potential swing vote," explained The Hill.
If Corker pushes the nomination through to a full Senate vote, things would still be tight. If Paul persisted in voting no, then Vice President Mike Pence might have to become the nomination through.
If every Republican senator but Paul supports Pompeo, as they did for his current CIA post, and every Democrat opposes, Senate would split 50-50.
Senator John McCain's health also further complicates the issue. He is currently in treatment for brain cancer, and he hasn't voted in the Senate for months. If McCain doesn't return and Paul votes no, the Republicans would be one short at a 49-50 vote.
At that point, Pompeo would need to win over Democratic votes to win the nomination. That's possible, but it will be less easy than last time.
"Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Tuesday that he was not actively urging his caucus to oppose Pompeo or Haspel but said the two picks will face 'unanswered' and 'outstanding' questions," wrote The Hill.
Fourteen Democrats, including Schumer, and Independent Senator Angus King (Maine) supported Pompeo to lead the CIA.
In other news, John McCain also discussed Trump's nominees. Here's what he had to say.