Republican Senators to vote in favor of Trump's Sec'y of State

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham will vote in favor of Rex Tillerson despite their concerns over his ties with Russia.

Ben Ariel,

Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson
Reuters

Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said on Sunday that they will vote in favor of President Donald Trump’s secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson, Politico reports.

McCain and Graham were previously undecided about voting in favor or Tillerson due to his ties to Russia.

Though Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is still holding out on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Graham and McCain’s support will allow Trump to breathe easier, knowing that Tillerson will likely be confirmed later on the Senate floor, according to the report.

Tillerson needs just a bare majority of votes to win approval, and it appears highly unlikely now that Tillerson will lose the three or more Republican votes that could have scuttled his nomination.

McCain said on Sunday he was “very cautious” about voting for Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil CEO who once received an Order of Friendship award from Russian President Vladimir Putin. But the Arizona senator said that his deference to a new president combined with several private conversations with Tillerson sealed the deal.

“He talked to me a lot about his views with Russia, a lot about the events that have taken place, about … what his duties were as a head of one of the world’s largest corporations,” McCain was quoted as having told ABC’s “This Week.” “Listen, this wasn’t an easy call, but I also believe that when there’s doubt, the incoming president gets the benefit of doubt, and that’s the way I’ve treated every president.”

The Foreign Relations panel will vote on Tillerson’s nomination on Monday, according to Politico.

While McCain and Graham both offered poor reviews of Tillerson's performance at his confirmation hearing, on Sunday they released a joint a statement saying they would back Tillerson and not buck Trump.

"Though we still have concerns about his past dealings with the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin, we believe that Mr. Tillerson can be an effective advocate for U.S. interests," they said, according to Politico. "The views that Mr. Tillerson has expressed, both privately and publicly during the confirmation process, give us confidence that he will be a champion for a strong and engaged role for America in the world."

During his confirmation hearing earlier this month, Tillerson expressed support for Israel while blasting the Obama administration for its attitude toward the Jewish state, particularly its decision not to veto UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which criticized Israeli construction in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Tillerson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the UN resolution was “not helpful” and “undermines” the conditions for peace talks to continue.

He also described then-Secretary of State John Kerry’s subsequent speech criticizing Israel as “quite troubling.”

Tillerson stressed the importance of the United States recommitting to its alliance with Israel, which he said “is, was and always has been our most important ally” in the Middle East.


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