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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 ManchinJoe ManchinThe Memo: The center strikes back Sunday shows - Voting rights, infrastructure in the spotlight Democratic clamor grows for select committee on Jan. 6 attack 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.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting On The Money: Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle | White House rules out gas tax hike Democrats introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for government discrimination MORE (Va.) and Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus KingCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Biden struggles to detail post-withdrawal Afghanistan plans Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle MORE (Maine) joined all Republicans in backing Trump’s nominee. Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? 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 CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  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 RubioRubio calls on Biden to allow Naval Academy graduate to play in NFL Florida governor adept student of Trump playbook White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine 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 SchumerChuck SchumerCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision Senate confirms Chris Inglis as first White House cyber czar MORE (D-N.Y.) moved on Monday to delay a procedural vote, but was blocked by Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonJon Stewart shows late-night conformity cabal how political comedy is done The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? Court fines baker 0 for refusing to make gender transition cake 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 MurphyCongress barrels toward debt cliff End the practice of hitting children in public schools Public option fades with little outcry from progressives MORE (D-Conn.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. 

Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinSchumer vows to only pass infrastructure package that is 'a strong, bold climate bill' The Hill's Morning Report - Biden on Putin: 'a worthy adversary' Antsy Democrats warn of infrastructure time crunch 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.