Senate confirms Tillerson as secretary of State

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 was approved in a 56-43 vote. Though Democrats largely lined up against Tillerson, he got some Democratic support. 

Democratic Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Energy: EPA aims to work more closely with industry Overnight Finance: Lawmakers grill Equifax chief over hack | Wells Fargo CEO defends bank's progress | Trump jokes Puerto Rico threw budget 'out of whack' | Mortgage tax fight tests industry clout Lawmakers try again on miners’ pension bill MORE (W.Va.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampWells Fargo chief defends bank's progress in tense Senate hearing Dems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada Red-state Dems need more from Trump before tax embrace MORE (N.D.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTrump: Why isn't Senate looking into 'Fake News Networks'? 5 takeaways from Senate Russian meddling presser Trump: 'America is truly a nation in mourning' MORE (Va.) and Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingSenate confirms No. 2 spot at HHS, days after Price resigns Overnight Defense: Mattis offers support for Iran deal | McCain blocks nominees over Afghanistan strategy | Trump, Tillerson spilt raises new questions about N. Korea policy Mattis: Staying in Iran deal is of US national security interest MORE (Maine) joined all Republicans in backing Trump’s nominee. Sen. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsThis week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform Lift the Jones Act and similar restrictions for humanitarian crises Overnight Tech: White House unveils tech education initiative | Bannon reportedly sought to spy on Facebook | Uber CEO to appeal London ban | John Oliver rips AT&T-Time Warner merger MORE (D-Del.) skipped the vote.

Tillerson will take over his post as the country's top diplomat as lawmakers remain skeptical over Trump's foreign policy, including his stance toward Russia and Trump's controversial executive order on immigration.

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerDeficit hawks voice worry over direction of tax plan The Hill Interview: Budget Chair Black sticks around for now Overnight Finance: White House requests B for disaster relief | Ex-Equifax chief grilled over stock sales | House panel approves B for border wall | Tax plan puts swing-state Republicans in tough spot MORE (R-Tenn.) specifically pointed to Russia as one area he expects Tillerson to home 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." 

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He added that the administration also needs to "get on with" naming Tillerson's deputies. 

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Tillerson, Trump deny report of rift | Tillerson says he never considered resigning | Trump expresses 'total confidence' in secretary | Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts GOP establishment doubts Bannon’s primary powers MORE (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."

Democrats launched a failed effort to delay Tillerson's nomination until after he had time to weigh in on Trump's executive order, which bars citizens from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the U.S., temporarily prevents all refugees from entering the country and indefinitely suspends resettlement for refugees from Syria.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance | Puerto Rico's water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Crying on TV doesn't qualify Kimmel to set nation's gun agenda Trump knocks ‘fake’ news coverage of his trip to Puerto Rico MORE (D-N.Y.) moved on Monday to delay a procedural vote, but was blocked by Sen. Tom CottonTom CottonHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Republicans jockey for position on immigration The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ark.). 

Instead, Democrats shifted to an uphill battle to try to convince Republicans to vote against Tillerson. 

They noted that dozens of GOP lawmakers had raised concerns about Trump's executive order and that Tillerson, a former CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., had not backed new sanctions targeting Moscow. 

"This is all an advertisement for a very simple idea — that this is probably the absolute worst time to have the first American President with no government experience and no diplomatic experience pick the first Secretary of State with no government experience and no diplomatic experience," said Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Murphy faces criticism from GOP challenger over fundraising email Democrat: Republicans who believe in more gun control afraid of being 'politically punished' MORE (D-Conn.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. 

Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinOvernight Cybersecurity: Equifax CEO faces outraged lawmakers | Dem presses voting machine makers on cyber defense | Yahoo says 3 billion accounts affected by 2013 breach Key Dem: Did Kushner use private emails to talk with foreign governments? Dem senator pitches ideas for gun control after shooting MORE (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."

- Updated at 3:03 p.m.