(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of state is almost certain to secure Senate confirmation after three holdouts in the chamber decided to back him over the weekend.
Republican senators Marco Rubio of Florida, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina all had reservations concerning Trump’s pick Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil who, throughout his time there, worked extensively with the Russian government and opposed economic sanctions as a diplomatic leveraging tool.
All three senators offered tepid endorsements of Tillerson on Sunday and Monday, virtually ensuring the votes necessary for confirmation.
“Mr. Tillerson is likely to have a potentially unprecedented level of influence over the direction of our foreign policy,” Rubio said in a lengthy statement, outlining his endorsement. “I remain concerned that in the years to come, our country will not give the defense of democracy and human rights the priority they deserve, and will pursue a foreign policy that too often sets aside our values and our historic alliances in pursuit of flawed geopolitical deals.”
In his Senate hearing earlier this month, Tillerson slammed the outgoing Obama administration for its decision to abstain from a Security Council resolution last month condemning Israel over its settlement enterprise. He said he would pursue a less publicly fractious path in the US-Israel relationship.
Questioned by one Democratic senator over whether he supported a two-state solution, Tillerson said that such an outcome to the conflict is “the dream that everyone is in pursuit of.”
“Whether it could ever be a reality remains to be seen,” he added.
Trump to name Rex Tillerson as secretary of state
“I don’t think anyone would take a position that they don’t hope for peace in that area.”
He vowed support for congressional action that combats the growing BDS movement against Israel, both in the United States and abroad; a “full review” and strict enforcement of the nuclear deal brokered with Iran last year; and to aid in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process only to the extent the US can be helpful.
“Sometimes it takes another generation that’s not carrying all that baggage of the past,” he said.
“The Palestinian people have suffered a lot, under their own leadership in many cases.”