© Greg Nash
Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinOvernight Defense & National Security — Pentagon tells Russia to stand down Ukraine sent letter to senators seeking specific Russia sanctions, military assistance SALT change likely to be cut from bill, say Senate Democrats MORE (D-Md.) is warning Senate Republicans against giving President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFormer chairman of Wisconsin GOP party signals he will comply with Jan. 6 committee subpoena Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon tells Russia to stand down Billionaire GOP donor maxed out to Manchin following his Build Back Better opposition MORE’s pick for secretary of State a floor vote if he does not pass a committee vote.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerRepublicans, ideology, and demise of the state and local tax deduction Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force MORE (R-Tenn.) has floated the prospect of moving Rex Tillerson’s nomination to the Senate floor even if he falls short in the committee's vote next week.
Cardin, the top Democrat on the committee, on Wednesday told The Hill that Corker should pump the breaks on such a move.
“I think the vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is extremely important," he said.
"It represents a committee that listened to Mr. Tillerson, who has the Senate expertise on the jurisdiction that Mr. Tillerson will be responsible for. I think the vote will be consequential."
An aide added that Cardin would be very concerned if Corker helped to send Tillerson to the floor if he failed in the committee.
Minutes before Cardin's answer, Corker reiterated he sees a possible path for Tillerson if he fails in the committee on Monday.
"There are multiple ways of getting someone to the floor. I’m confident that Rex Tillerson will receive a vote on the floor and I’m confident he’s going to be confirmed," Corker told reporters.
"We’ll know what route that will be on Monday afternoon when we have the markup. At this point, there may be something I'm unaware of, but I’m confident he will be our next secretary of state.”
Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPut partisan politics aside — The Child Tax Credit must be renewed immediately These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine MORE (R-Fla.), who is on the committee, has remained mum on whether he’ll back Tillerson. Republicans have a 11-10 advantage on the committee, so just one GOP vote against Tillerson could mean a failing vote
Tillerson faced a tough nomination hearing last week where Rubio in particular pressed him on his relationship with Russia and his work for Exxon Mobil.
Nominees typically move through the Senate first through a majority vote in committee before being confirmed by a vote on the Senate floor. However, there are arcane rules that could allow a nominee to reach the floor even if he or she fails to pass through the committee.
Corker has not elaborated on how he would overcome a "no" vote in the committee, but a similar tactic was used before by the committee in 1983 for President Ronald Reagan's pick for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.
When it became clear the nominee couldn't win a majority vote, the committee put him forward with a vote that moved his nomination to the full Senate but recommended that the Senate vote him down. That vote passed the committee, but the Senate chose to confirm him anyway.