Tillerson clears key Senate hurdle
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Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson cleared a key hurdle on Monday evening, setting the Senate up to confirm him to lead the State Department later this week.

Senators voted 56-43 on a procedural hurdle, with only a simple majority needed to move forward.

Democratic Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinKoch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads George Floyd and the upcoming Texas Democratic Senate runoff Energy companies cancel Atlantic Coast Pipeline MORE (W.Va.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn Heitkamp70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents Susan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA MORE (N.D.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerGOP chairman vows to protect whistleblowers following Vindman retirement over 'bullying' Senators press IRS chief on stimulus check pitfalls Hillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats MORE (Va.), as well as Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus KingKoch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs The Hill's Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Reid Wilson says political winners are governors who listened to scientists and public health experts; 12 states record new highs for seven-day case averages MORE (Maine) voted to move forward with Tillerson's nomination. Manchin, Heitkamp and King are up for reelection in 2018.

The move sets up the Senate to take a final vote on Tillerson as early as Wednesday, if senators don't yield back any of the 30-hours of debate time.

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Sen. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' A renewed emphasis on research and development funding is needed from the government Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs MORE (D-N.Y.), the Senate's top Democrat, made a failed eleventh hour attempt to delay the vote on Tillerson's nomination.

Schumer argued that Tillerson should be delayed until he weights in on Trump's executive order temporarily banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

"Democrats and Republicans alike and the American people most of all deserve to know whether Mr. Tillerson would implement this executive order or not because it seems to directly contradict comments he made under oath to a committee," Schumer said.

Democrats introduced legislation on Monday to unravel Trump's executive order, but the proposals likely face an uphill battle in a Republican-controlled Congress.

Democrats have also raised questions over Tillerson's relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and that he wouldn't explicitly support new Russia sanctions during his confirmation hearing.

Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonPublic letter in Harper's sparks furor Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE (R-Ark.) objected to Schumer's request.

He argued that if Democrats want to help combat the refugee crisis and the ongoing war in Syria, "I suggest we get to work and confirm Rex Tillerson to be secretary of State and Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsSessions hits back at Trump days ahead of Alabama Senate runoff Senate outlook slides for GOP Supreme Court blocks order that relaxed voting restrictions in Alabama MORE to be attorney general."

Tillerson cleared the Foreign Relations Committee last week along a party-line vote. Sessions is expected to be passed out of the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday morning.

Democrats face an uphill battle to block any of Trump's nominees, who will need a simple majority to clear the upper chamber. Republicans hold a 52-seat majority.