WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – In the first hearing since the coronavirus pandemic began, members of the Senate heard from President Donald Trump’s pick to be the next Director of National Intelligence.
The hearing required special precaution.
“For you to sit up here, we’d have to wipe down every seat of the person that was already in it,” Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) said Tuesday.
Burr led the socially-distanced senators in the confirmation hearing of Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe to be Director of National Intelligence.
“As DNI, there will be no greater champion of their hard work and dedication to this country than me,” Ratcliffe (R-TX) said.
Ratcliffe has served in Congress since 2015. He was first asked to be the Director of National Intelligence last year but later stepped aside.
Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio wanted to know what’s changed.
“I think the most fundamental question is why. Why is this a job that you are willing to step forward and do at this time?” Rubio asked Tuesday.
Ratcliffe answered, “it’s easy to raise your hand when things are going perfectly, it’s harder to raise your hand when they’re not.”
Democrats inside the hearing on Capitol Hill focused on whether Ratcliffe will speak out, even if it’s to say something the president disagrees with.
“We must expect and demand professionalism – a nonpartisan commitment to the truth,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said.
Warner said Ratcliffe must represent the intelligence community without bias.
“I will be entirely apolitical as the director of national intelligence,” Ratcliffe promised.
Although a committee vote wasn’t held Tuesday, Burr expects a swift confirmation.
“I look forward to advancing your nomination rapidly,” Burr added.
With the Senate now back Washington, that advancement could come as early as next week.