US Republican Senator Marco Rubio clears way for Rex Tillerson’s approval as US secretary of state

January 23, 2017 10:30 pm

Republican Senator

Republican Senator Marco Rubio has repeated his concerns about US President ’s designated secretary of state , but said he would support him despite reservations.
Rubio’s announcement, which was made in a statement on Monday hours ahead of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s vote on Tillerson, virtually secured Senate confirmation of the former Exxon Mobil Corp chief executive as America’s top diplomat.
Rubio said that he was troubled by Tillerson’s refusal to say that Russian President Vladimir Putin has committed war crimes in Syria, but that he ultimately decided he would vote to approve the nominee in deference to the office of the president.
“Despite his extensive experience in Russia and his personal relationship with many of its leaders, he claimed he did not have sufficient information to determine whether Putin and his cronies were responsible for ordering the murder of countless dissidents, journalists and political opponents,” Rubio said of Tillerson. “He indicated he would support sanctions on Putin for meddling in our elections only if they met the impossible condition that they not affect US businesses operating in Russia.”
“Despite my reservations, I will support Mr. Tillerson’s nomination in committee and in the full Senate,” Rubio added.
Tillerson’s alleged ties with the Russian leader have become a source of bipartisan concern. His appointment must be approved at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where Republicans hold a 10-to-nine advantage.
If just one Republican member and all Democrats gang up against Tillerson, they could sink his nomination before it even reaches the Senate floor.

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the signing of a Rosneft-ExxonMobil strategic partnership agreement in Sochi in 2011 (Photo by AFP)

Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have also questioned the ExxonMobil CEO’s close business ties with Russia and Putin, but reluctantly agreed to support his nomination.
A vote in the Republican-dominated Senate was expected later on Monday, shortly after the committee vote. Tillerson is expected to win confirmation, despite opposition from Democrats.
Earlier in the day, Senator Ben Cardin, the most senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he would not back Tillerson.
“The power of the Secretary of State to call out wrong, to name and shame, and to fight each day on behalf of the American people and freedom-seeking people the world over is an enduring symbol,” Cardin said in a statement. 
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