Rex Tillerson has finally been nominated as Secretary of State. This comes after weeks of intense Senate interrogations of his background and history. It also comes at a time of sharp division between the Republican and Democratic party over the cabinet nominations.
He is a former ExxonMobil executive and won in a 56-43 vote. He will be the United States highest diplomat. The Senate Judiciary Committee also approved Senator Jeff Sessions to Attorney General in an 11-9 vote.
Democrats have attempted to stall the nomination process with delays. They have raised concerns about their financial and ethical records as well as background checks of the candidates. However, the Senate Finance Committee which is dominated by Republicans sidestepped these tactics by boycotting the votes.
Tillerson will be the 69th Secretary of State. He will take John Kerry’s former position. Those who voted against his nomination were mostly Democrats and it was the most divisive vote in Senate history. Once he takes office he will be thrust into dealing with some very serious issues. From deteriorating relations with Russia and China to the Palestinian vs. Israeli issue. As well as re-examining the nuclear deal with Iran that was enacted under President Obama.
Despite the derisive nature of the Democratic attacks against him Tillerson has a reputable history. He is a native Texan who has an engineering degree from the University of Texas at Austin. He began his work in the oil and gas industry in 1975 and worked his way to the top prior to leaving last year.
As chief executive at Exxon Mobil he had operations in six different continents. One time he negotiated a deal with a repressive government against the advice of high level State Department officials. Most who have done their research have positive things to say about him. R. Nicholas Burns who is a Harvard professor and a career foreign service diplomat said the following about Tillerson,
“Rex Tillerson will have the most demanding and complex agenda to face a secretary of state in a very long time.”
It appears that all of President Trump’s cabinet nominees will successfully bear the test of public scrutiny as they are being confirmed. Despite all the backlash from those within the Democratic party the Republicans were able to achieve this narrow win. But it will likely be one of the earliest and best wins they have because the cabinet nominees will shape foreign and domestic policy for the next four years at a minimum.
This will be another win for President Trump. If the next four years is anything like the first two weeks then we will be seeing him for far longer than just four years.