WASHINGTON, DC – On Thursday, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) announced he would not back Rex Wayne Tillerson to serve as U.S. Secretary of State, citing a lack of American values, three days after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee endorsed his nomination in an 11-10 vote along party lines.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a bitter rival to President Donald Trump in the primary, was among those who endorsed Tillerson despite strong criticism.
“My concern was that Mr. Tillerson, would be an advocate for and would pursue a foreign policy of deal making at the expense of traditional alliances and at the expense of the defense of human rights, and of democracy,” Rubio said.
But Rubio said Tillerson’s track record of leadership at Exxon, support of NATO, recognition that Russia’s claims on Crimea are illegitimate, and what Rubio said was deserved deference for President Trump’s choice to lead the State Department during uncertain times, led him to vote for Tillerson.
“I concluded that it would not be good for our country to unnecessarily delay or create unwarranted political controversy over this particular nomination,” Rubio said.
Whitehouse stated his own criticism of Tillerson moves him to vote against the nominee in the full Senate.
“The United States represents to the world a model of democratic leadership and honesty.
“Rex Tillerson has spent his career in an international oil company that was cozy with the worst foreign governments, particularly with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, and that has been fundamentally dishonest with the world as to what Exxon knew about climate change.
“Mr. Tillerson has spent his life extracting: extracting fossil fuels from the earth, extracting drilling concessions from corrupt regimes, extracting special tax favors from Congress, and extracting profits for his shareholders.
“American leadership in a dangerous world is about more than that. I do not think Mr. Tillerson has American values, and I will not support his nomination.”
Nevertheless, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) set Tillerson up for an eventual confirmation after endorsing him following their own sharp criticism of the former Exxon Mobil executive, according to a Washington Post report.
On Thursday, the Washington Post also reported that the entire senior administration team at the State Department, which has served under Republican and Democratic administrations, had resigned/not been asked to stay the day before.
The full Senate votes on Tillerson’s nomination next week.
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