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Senate Intelligence Panel Approves Ratcliffe for National Intelligence Director

By VOA News May 19, 2020

The Senate Intelligence Committee approved the nomination Tuesday of Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe for the position of National Intelligence director.

The committee's decision on the nomination was a narrow partisan vote of 8 to 7, with all Democrats on the opposing side. If approved by the full Senate, Ratcliffe would become the permanent director of National Intelligence – a position left vacant since Dan Coats resigned in July 2019, and which is being temporarily held by Richard Grenell.

Ratcliffe was initially nominated by President Donald Trump late last July, but he withdrew after tepid support from Republican senators, scrutiny about his credentials and limited intelligence experience.

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The Republican congressman's experience, which includes serving on the House Intelligence Committee for one term, is a notable contrast to his predecessors, who generally have had decades of experience in the military or foreign service and have held positions in the intelligence community.

During his confirmation process by the Senate panel, Ratcliffe has worked to shed his image as a Trump loyalist, contrary to his previous supportive tweets highlighting the president's "historic accomplishments" achieved "with one hand tied behind his back."

While Ratcliffe's nomination was first met with lukewarm responses from Republican senators, former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr had given the Texas congressman his full support.

"I believe he understands the challenges facing the Intelligence Community in the 21st century and is ready to work to meet them. … I look forward to advancing Ratcliffe's nomination and supporting it when it comes before the full Senate," Burr said after Ratcliffe's Senate hearing May 5.

Burr stepped away from his committee chairmanship, however, amid the FBI's investigation into stock trades he made prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Ratcliffe's nomination will need to be confirmed by the full Senate in a vote likely to be held after Memorial Day, according to congressional aides.

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