Gov. Nikki Haley could be confirmed as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations as early as Tuesday, ushering in a new S.C. governor in Henry McMaster and a succession game in the state Senate.
First, Haley must get an official nod of approval from the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The committee is scheduled to take up a vote on her confirmation at noon. Then, the full Senate must vote on whether to confirm her appointment.
That could happen as early as Tuesday. However, if Haley is not confirmed by the Senateon Tuesday, it could be next week before her nomination is voted on. The Senate is not scheduled to meet Wednesday, Thursday or Friday as House and Senate Republicans hold a retreat in Philadelphia.
After the U.S. Senate confirms Haley’s appointment and Haley resigns as governor, the Lexington Republican will be sworn in as a member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet.
In her new job, Haley would see a bump in pay – to $187,000 a year as ambassador, according to a U.S. State Department spokesperson, from $106,078 as governor.
She also will get a paid-for apartment in New York City. The official residence of the U.N. ambassador is a suite in the prestigious Waldorf Astoria hotel.
Upon Haley’s resignation, McMaster would become governor, leaving a vacancy in the lieutenant governor’s office that would be filled by the president pro tempore of the state Senate.
However, the current pro tem – state Sen. Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence – does not want to become lieutenant governor, a largely ceremonial post that oversees the state’s Office on Aging.
Leatherman is the most powerful legislator in the state, overseeing the Senate calendar and its budget-writing committee, and serving on other boards that control state spending.
Leatherman is expected to resign as Senate president pro tem long enough to allow another senator to be elected to the post – most likely state Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson – and become lieutenant governor.
Then, Leatherman is expected to try to regain his post as president pro tem.
McMaster, a former S.C. attorney general and a Columbia Republican, would complete the remaining two years of Haley’s term.
McMaster could become the state’s longest-serving governor – serving 10 years – if, as expected, he runs for the office in 2018 and wins re-election in 2022.
S.C. law limits a governor to being elected twice – or eight years. However, McMaster would not be elected to serve the final two years of Haley’s term.