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Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has won the approval of two key Republican senators, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, just before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee votes on Tillerson’s nomination on Monday.
“After careful consideration, and much discussion with Mr. Tillerson, we have decided to support his nomination to be secretary of state,” Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said in a joint statement on Sunday.
“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,” the two senators said.
Sen. Graham also tweeted “I will vote to confirm Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State.”
The support of the two key Senators comes as lawmakers of both parties have expressed worries over Tillerson’s close ties to Russia and Putin while he was chief executive at ExxonMobil.
Rep. Senator Marco Rubio – who was a rival of Trump’s for the Republican presidential nomination – is still undecided over Tillerson’s nomination, but according to the Associated Press, McCain and Graham’s support could make it more difficult for Rubio to remain a holdout.
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At Tillerson’s Senate confirmation hearing earlier this month, Rubio urged the Secretary of State nominee to agree that Putin was a war criminal because of Russia’s involvement in Syria. Tillerson declined, saying these were “serious charges to make,” adding that he needed more information before reaching that determination.
Rubio has said that he would make up his mind “certainly before the vote”, adding that Tillerson’s responses to written questions have helped to address “some of” the senator’s concerns, AP reports.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee members are narrowly split with a slight advantage for Republicans, so Republicans may need all of their party votes to pass the Tillerson nomination.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.