Donald Trump's Secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson, confirmed by US Senate

The US Senate voted Wednesday afternoon to confirm Rex Tillerson, longtime CEO of ExxonMobil, as secretary of state, the top US diplomatic representative.

A Republican-controlled Senate committee voted Wednesday to advance two of President Trump's Cabinet nominations to a full chamber vote - after suspending its own rules to overcome a Democratic boycott.

That's probably because Senate Democrats have faced increasing pressure from their base to reject all of President Donald Trump's nominees. But Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, is not sure what influence the new secretary of state will have.

"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.

Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Mark Warner of Virginia and Angus King of ME voted in favor.

So close was he to President Vladimir Putin that in 2013, Tillerson received Russia's "Order of Friendship".

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"I know this was a hotly contested election and we do not all feel the same way about the outcome", the former ExxonMobil CEO said, "but we can not let our personal convictions overwhelm our ability to work as one team". Joe Donnelly said Tillerson had previously put ExxonMobil's and other countries' interests over the USA's national security concerns.

Trump has said he too hopes to form a friendship with Russian Federation, and U.S. allies are concerned that he and Tillerson might halt measures taken to punish the Kremlin's intervention in Ukraine. John Kerry, Tillerson's predecessor in the same role, was confirmed by 94 to 3.

Thomas Countryman, a 35-year veteran career diplomat who retired on Monday as an assistant secretary of state, urged Tillerson to promise to protect his new employees from retribution.

"You are our emissaries of our nation and the ideals we stand for", Tillerson said. But the White House and his supporters in the Senate touted his experience making business deals around the globe as evidence that he could represent US interests overseas.

"It's unconscionable that the Senate confirmed an oil executive to be America's ambassador to the world", Michael Brune, the executive director of The Sierra Club, said in a press statement.

"We apologize for being late", Tillerson told the agency crowd.

  • Adam Floyd