The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday narrowly endorsed Rep. John Ratcliffe to be President Trump’s next director of national intelligence, sending the nomination to the Senate floor.
Ratcliffe, R-Texas, was voted out of committee on a party-line vote of 8-7, according to GOP Sen. Roy Blunt.
The committee’s Ratcliffe vote Tuesday came just a day after Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was named acting chairman of the panel. Last week, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., stepped aside as committee chairman amid an investigation into his stock sales during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak.
Meanwhile, during his confirmation hearing earlier this month, Ratcliffe, R-Texas, pledged to senators that he’d deliver intelligence information without bias and would look forward to leaving politics behind if confirmed for the job.
Ratcliffe, who was one of Trump’s fiercest allies during impeachment, said he had the experience to be an independent leader of the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies, given his past work as a federal prosecutor.
“The best job I ever had was to be the United States attorney and what I loved…was it was an apolitical position,” Ratcliffe told the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month. “I stood up always to represent the United States of America. Never one party or another. And I very much view that as this role for the DNI.”
He added: “I look forward to treating every member, Republican and Democrat, exactly the same way. And, frankly, being out of politics.”
Ratcliffe also vowed to deliver “unvarnished,” truthful information to the president, regardless of whether it may anger him.
Ratcliffe also offered assurances that he would stand up for whistleblowers in the intelligence community, amid heated debate over the treatment of a whistleblower whose complaint touched off impeachment proceedings.
"I want to make it very clear, if confirmed as DNI, every whistleblower – past, present and future — will enjoy every protection under the law," he said.
Ratcliffe, a former federal prosecutor who had been a fierce defender of Trump and his agenda, was one of the most vocal critics of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The president nominated Ratcliffe to serve as DNI in February, just months after the congressman abruptly withdrew his name for the same post when he was first put forward to replace Dan Coats.
When Ratcliffe withdrew his name, Trump at the time cited his tough treatment at the hands of “the LameStream Media.”
Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, is currently serving as acting DNI.
He has made waves in that position while Ratcliffe has gone through the confirmation process, most recently declassifying files related to the "unmasking" of former national security adviser Michael Flynn's name in intelligence reports.
Fox News' Chad Pergram and Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.