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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) ManchinPavlich: The claim Trump let the mentally ill get guns is a lie Toomey to introduce bill broadening background checks for firearms Scott Walker backs West Virginia attorney general in GOP Senate primary MORE (W.Va.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampSenate rejects Trump immigration plan Cramer to announce North Dakota Senate run on Friday Senate Democrats not sold on bipartisan immigration deal MORE (N.D.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerLawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology Mueller indictment reveals sophisticated Russian manipulation effort GOP cautious, Dems strident in reaction to new indictments MORE (Va.) and Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingLawmakers are failing in duty to respond to the American people Congress fails miserably: For Asian-Americans, immigration proposals are personal attacks GOP senators float fallback plan to protect Dreamers MORE (Maine) joined all Republicans in backing Trump’s nominee. Sen. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsAfter Florida school shooting, vows for change but no clear path forward Democrats put Dreamers and their party in danger by playing hardball Sunday shows preview: Russian charges, Florida shooting dominate coverage 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 CorkerCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Drama surrounding Shulkin — what is the future of VA health care? Blackburn pushes back on potential Corker bid: 'I'm going to win' 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 RubioColbert: Students taking action on gun violence 'give me hope' Lawmakers feel pressure on guns Florida lawmaker's aide fired after claiming shooting survivors were 'actors' 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 SchumerDemocrats now attack internet rules they once embraced Schumer: Trump budget would ‘cripple’ gun background checks Schumer: Senate Republicans' silence 'deafening' on guns, Russia MORE (D-N.Y.) moved on Monday to delay a procedural vote, but was blocked by Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonGOP looks for Plan B after failure of immigration measures Senate rejects Trump immigration plan Our intelligence chiefs just want to tell the truth about national security 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 MurphyLawmakers feel pressure on guns Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks Kasich’s campaign website tones down gun language after Florida shooting MORE (D-Conn.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. 

Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinWashington puts Ethiopia's human rights abusers on notice Overnight Defense: Mattis vows Dreamers in military won't be deported | Pentagon unsure if military parade will be in Washington | Dem bill would block funds for parade Dems introduce bills to block funds for Trump's proposed parade 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.