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 Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Mark Warner (Va.), as well as Independent Sen. Angus King (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.

{mosads}Sen. Charles Schumer (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 Cotton (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 Sessions 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.

Tags Angus King Chuck Schumer Heidi Heitkamp Jeff Sessions Joe Manchin Mark Warner Tom Cotton

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