By a party-line vote, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Monday approved the nomination of Rex Tillerson as President Donald Trump’s secretary of state.
The 11-10 vote saw three Republican senators who had expressed concerns about the nominee cast votes in favor of him.
Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina had indicated Sunday they would support Trump’s choice in spite of their reservations.
“Though we still have concerns about his past dealings with the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin, we believe that Mr. Tillerson can be an effective advocate for U.S. interests,” they said in a statement.
As reported by Western Journalism, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on Monday also voiced concerns about Tillerson but said he would vote in favor of the nomination.
“He has a proven record of running a large, complex company,” Rubio said before voting yes. “For me, this wasn’t simply a concern about Russia.”
Rubio’s decision drew criticism from Democrats.
“By ignoring his serious reservations about Tillerson’s connections to Vladimir Putin, Marco Rubio is not only rolling over for Donald Trump, he’s earning the nickname Trump gave him: Little Marco,” said Zac Petkanas, a senior adviser to the Democratic National Committee.
Because Republicans hold a majority in the Senate, Tillerson’s nomination is now likely to achieve full Senate confirmation, but it may take a few more days.
For one thing, Wednesday is a day when both parties will be away from Capitol Hill on policy retreats. For another, Democrats are insisting Tillerson answer more questions.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Democratic senators “still await more complete responses” from Tillerson.
“Democrats are not stalling nominations just for the sake of it,” he said. “This is not for sport.”
However, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Tillerson had responded to “over 1,000 questions for the record” ahead of his committee approval, and rebuked Democrats for tossing “silly, silly, silly, ridiculous questions” at the nominee.
Corker said “diplomacy has been a critical component” of Tillerson’s job as CEO of ExxonMobil and praised him as an “adept negotiator” who fostered relationships in many nations.
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