Tillerson starts duty after senate approval
WASHINGTONThe U.S. Senate confirmed Rex Tillerson as U.S. President Donald Trump’s secretary of state on Feb. 1, filling a key spot on the Republican’s national security team despite concerns about the former Exxon Mobil Corp chief executive officer’s ties to Russia.
Tillerson was later in the same day sworn in.
“It’s time to bring a clear-eyed focus to foreign affairs,” Trump said at a White House ceremony, adding, “All of us are better off when we act in concert and not conflict. There’s rarely been conflict in the world like we see today. Very sad.”
Vice President Mike Pence gave the oath of office to Tillerson.
The vote for Tillerson at the Senate, mostly along party lines, was by far the closest in at least half a century.
Fifty-six senators backed Tillerson, and 43 voted no. Every Republican favored Tillerson, along with four members of the Democratic caucus, Senators Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Manchin and Mark Warner as well as Angus King, an independent.
Democratic Senator Chris Coons did not vote.
Tillerson’s predecessor in the position, John Kerry, was confirmed by 94 to 3. Condoleezza Rice, the last secretary of state nominated by a Republican, was confirmed by 85-13.
Senate Democrats had tried, but failed, to delay the vote on Tillerson because of Trump’s executive order banning immigration from seven mostly Muslim countries and temporarily halting the entry of refugees.
They said they wanted to ask Tillerson more questions about the issue after Trump signed the order on Jan. 27, prompting protests and chaos at airports across the country and uncertainty and disruption for travelers around the world.
But Republicans hold a majority of 52 seats in the 100-member Senate, and so far have confirmed all of the six Trump nominees who have come up for votes.