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 ManchinJoe ManchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture Manchin on collision course with Warren, Sanders Manchin touts rating as 'most bipartisan senator' MORE (W.Va.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampEffective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests Bill Maher blasts removal of journalist at Teen Vogue Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives MORE (N.D.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerFacebook board decision on Trump ban pleases no one Schumer works to balance a divided caucus's demands Senate Intel vows to 'get to the bottom' of 'Havana syndrome' attacks MORE (Va.), as well as Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus KingDC mayor admitted to Democratic governors group amid statehood fight Democrats fret over Biden spending Schumer works to balance a divided caucus's demands 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 SchumerBiden to meet with 6 GOP senators next week The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture How to fast-track climate action? EPA cutting super pollutant HFCs 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 CottonTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Opposition to refugees echoes one of America's most shameful moments White House defends CDC outreach to teachers union 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 SessionsTrump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report Ex-Sen. Doug Jones joins law and lobbying firm Arent Fox Former Barr spokesperson at DOJ hired to be Fox News Washington editor 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.