From The Hill

The Senate on Wednesday approved Rex Tillerson to lead President Trump’s State Department, despite a late effort by Democrats to slow down the nomination.

Tillerson surpassed 51 votes for him, enough for a simple majority to approve his nomination. The vote is still open.

Tillerson will take over his post as the country’s top diplomat as lawmakers remain skeptical over President Trump’s foreign policy, including his stance toward Russia and a recent executive order that temporarily banned refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) specifically pointed to Russia as one area where he expects Tillerson to hone in on.

“I would say the place that, if I were him, that I would want to be focused is my strategy on the Russia issue,” he told reporters. “It’s one where you know the president seems fairly engaged and I think as secretary of State he probably wants to make sure that he’s developed his thinking on how to push back on Putin.”

He added that the administration also needs to “get on with” naming Tillerson’s deputies.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also noted his belief that the secretary of a State “is the most important cabinet position that the president has to nominate” as explanation for why he is supporting Tillerson despite concerns.

“There is so much uncertainty and debate about our role in the world these days,” he said. “A lot of our allies have questions. Our adversaries are obviously watching very closely.”

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, added: “We need, as the next Secretary of State, a person who is going to be a leader in saying: We are going to use every one of our diplomatic tools to isolate Russia if they continue this activity of interfering with our elections.”


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