Four ‘defect’ to join GOP as Senate confirms Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State
As the battle against President Trump’s cabinet selection continue, former chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil, Rex Tillerson, was confirmed Wednesday by the U.S. Senate. With a vote total of 56-43, four members voted with the Republicans to support Tillerson: Mark Warner, D-VA; Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND; Joe Manchin, D-W. Va and Angus King, I-ME. All of the other votes were down party lines.
It was a historic vote, with the “most votes against” for the important cabinet seat.
Thirteen senators voted in 2005 against Condoleezza Rice in the midst of a deteriorating Iraq war, and in 1825, Henry Clay was confirmed 27 to 14, the record for votes against until Wednesday.
“Rex Tillerson will have the most demanding and complex agenda to face a secretary of state in a very long time,” said R. Nicholas Burns, a Harvard professor and career foreign service officer.
Tillerson’s translates President Trump’s vow of “America First” into the kind of polite diplomatic process to develop ties and partnerships all over the globe as tensions are high in the Middle East, with Russia and the European Union faces chaos from Syrian refugees.
Trump promises to recast relations with China and Russia, move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, and re-examine an international nuclear deal with Iran.
In a White House briefing on Wednesday, Michael Flynn, the national security adviser, issued a stern warning to Iran. “The Obama administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions,” he said.
Tillerson, 64, a Texan, was part of Exxon since his first job in 1975 and climbed his way to the top, leaving only last year and brings vast international experience to the role.
Trump invited Mr. Tillerson for a private lunch at the White House on Wednesday, the first time Tillerson has appeared on the President’s official schedule.
“Tillerson faces the most difficult task of any secretary of state in the postwar era in trying to reconcile President Trump’s intention to make a stark break from decades of bipartisan consensus U.S. foreign policy leadership with the reality that, if he succeeds, such a break could lead to global chaos,” said Ryan C. Crocker, who served as the United States ambassador to five Muslim countries.
Getting four votes from the political opposition seemed unlikely a week ago, but the objections of leftists and Democrats have shifted to Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Edcuation as two Republican Senators stated they would not vote for DeVos.