What had appeared to be a cliffhanger a week ago turned into an anti-climax at the end. The Senate confirmed Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State with room to spare after several red-state Democrats crossed the aisle to support him. Each of them, with the exception of independent Angus King of Maine, faces a tough re-election bid in November:

The Senate approved Mike Pompeo’s nomination as the next secretary of state on Thursday, installing the former CIA Director as the nation’s top diplomat at a time when several high stakes negotiations are underway around the globe.

The vote was 57-42.

Present Republicans approved Pompeo. In addition, independent Sen. Angus King of Maine had also announced his support as have several Democrats: Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Doug Jones of Alabama, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.

Just a few days ago, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was poised to deliver a negative recommendation on the nomination. Three red-state Democrats peeled off, Rand Paul reversed his previous opposition, and Pompeo’s confirmation became inevitable. However, it still appeared that it would be a close-run vote, with perhaps only a four- or five-vote margin.

The bipartisanship didn’t extend far, though. Here’s Elizabeth Warren declaring Pompeo unfit for office in the debate before the vote:

That’s a pretty good argument … for limiting debate on nominations. The Senate Rules Committee did that last night, actually:

Opening a new front, members of the Rules Committee approved in a party-line vote on Wednesday a change that would, in the words of Senator Roy Blunt, the Missouri Republican who leads the panel, “streamline” the somewhat convoluted process. The plan would cut the required debate time to eight hours from 30 for noncabinet-level executive branch nominees and to two hours for Federal District Court judges. The requirement would remain at 30 hours for cabinet nominees and those put forward for spots on the Supreme Court and federal appeals courts, but the change could free up considerable time.

Republicans say that Democrats, by requiring Republicans to jump through all of the procedural hoops in scores of instances this year even when many Democrats ended up backing the nominees, are simply trying to tie up the Senate to thwart Republicans and Mr. Trump.

“It is sort of pointless wasting time, even when we know what the outcome is going to be,” said Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader.

And when the debate is as insubstantial and predictable, too.

Next, the Senate will take up the confirmation of Richard Grenell as US ambassador to Germany, an appointment that has been tied up for months. We’ll see if the Senate’s prepared to do business on other Trump nominees, which — hopefully — will prompt the White House to start filling the dozens of open positions in the diplomatic corps. Stay tuned.

Update: Heh.

Update: Grenell finally got out of the holding pattern and into the diplomatic corps this afternoon. He won confirmation on a similar vote to Pompeo’s approval, 56-42.

Update: Get to work, Mr. Secretary: