It confirmed several of Trump's executive and judicial nominees, including John Ratcliffe on Thursday as director of national intelligence.
Democrats opposed Ratcliffe's nomination but dropped procedural objections to a quick vote as members of both parties want a Senate-confirmed nominee in the job. He's shown here at his May 5th confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, congratulated Mr. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, voted against Ratcliffe's nomination on Thursday. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) complained a while back that McConnell has "effectively turned the United States Senate into a very expensive lunch club that occasionally votes on a judge or two".
Ratcliffe will take over the agency at a tumultuous time. -China tensions are rising over the coronavirus pandemic, and many in the national security community say they are certain that Russian Federation will again attempt to interfere in the US presidential election this fall. Ratcliffe to head the intelligence community at the end of February, days after he fired the former acting DNI chief Joseph Maguire.
Republicans hold 53 seats in the Senate.
The post had been temporarily filled by acting director Richard Grenell, a Trump loyalist who oversaw a shake-up in USA intelligence agencies that raised concerns on Capitol Hill.More news: Outrage in Hong Kong as China pushes security law
Ratcliffe, a Republican, was a USA attorney and then mayor of Heath, Texas, before he came to the House in 2015.
As acting director, Grenell made personnel changes and ordered reviews of the national intelligence director's office that critics feared were an attempt to clean house.
There was a point previous year in which the Senate literally went months without holding a roll call vote on passing any type of legislation.
But senators warmed to him as they grew concerned about upheaval in the intelligence community under Trump and wanted a permanent, confirmed director. Dan Coats, was popular with his former colleagues in Congress but left the post last summer after clashing with the president. But Democrats have been sceptical that he will serve with the independence they say is crucial for the job.
Ratcliffe was the most junior member of the House Intelligence Committee, with just six months on the panel, when Trump first tipped him for the post.
Also, Democrats are increasingly critical of President Trump's shakeups in the national security arena and some have accused him of politicizing work that's supposed to be non-partisan. "A risky combination", he said. Better to assess how that money is being spent, he said, before approving more.More news: United Kingdom to test anti-malaria drugs on health workers
He has represented Texas' 4th Congressional District since 2015, and his supporters have pointed to his work on security and intelligence matters as a prosecutor, as well as his service on the House Intelligence, Judiciary, and Ethics committees. When he was first nominated, senators questioned whether he had enough intelligence experience and whether he was picked because of his willingness to defend Trump.
In addition, the DNI is encountering ongoing political pressure, including from Republicans in Congress, to declassify and make public information from the Russian Federation investigation that Trump allies hope will cast senior Obama administration officials - including former vice president and 2020 opponent Joe Biden - in a negative light.
A USA intelligence consensus has reportedly concluded the virus most likely originated naturally, but Mr. Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo say they have seen evidence that a Chinese lab in Wuhan could have played a role in releasing the new virus. He was a member of Trump's impeachment advisory team last fall and aggressively questioned witnesses during the House impeachment hearings.
Formal legislation talks between the Trump administration and Congress have stalled for now.
Last week, for instance, Senate Republicans released a declassified list of former intelligence officials who requested the identity of an American from intelligence reports.
In the following weeks, Mr. Trump removed a small handful of top intelligence officials, including Michael Atkinson, former inspector general for the intelligence community. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation under oath.More news: COVID-19 survivor, male nurse shares shocking transformation pictures
"No lawyer for Flynn has ever seen it or heard the recording", Flynn's lawyer, Sidney Powell, said in an email to The Associated Press.