Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson has been confirmed as Secretary of State by the Senate Today. Tillerson is now the man who will negotiate deals with other countries on behalf the of President, but his first task will be to try to bring calm to the Department, where more than 900 diplomats have signed a letter of descent over Trump’s recent executive orders involving travel and entry bans on immigrants.
Democrats have complained about Tillerson’s past deals, that include large oil agreements in the Arctic Sea, Siberia and the Black Sea in Russia. His oil transactions have been so lucrative for Russia that Vladimir Putin awarded him with Russia’s Order of Friendship in 2013.
Sen. Martin Henrich (D-NM), asked how America could trust a man who is so close to Russia and refused to answer questions about human rights violations in the Middle East.
“Negotiating deals does not prepare you to be a diplomat advocating for American values,” Henrich said.
Another Democratic Senator, Joe Donnelly (D-Ind), said he voted against Tillerson due to his dealings with countries, such as Russia, Iran, Syria and Sudan, that the US is at odds with. “Putting a company’s interest before American interest is inexcusable and a disqualifying characteristic for America’s Secretary of State,” Donnelly said.
Henrich also voiced concerns about Tillerson being able to represent America’s climate change issues, separating them from lucrative oil deals of the past.
Republicans, however, crowed about Tillerson’s aptitude and talent, saying he brings those traits to the table for the American people.
The Senate will turn to the confirmation of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. While there are concerns about DeVos among some Republicans, she is expected to be confirmed.