Trump gets his secretary of state but other fights loom

The US Senate confirms former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as the next secretary of state despite questions about his ties to Russia.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Tillerson (R) was formally sworn in on Wednesday. Trump (L) now has another key member of his national security team in place, along with his defense and homeland security secretaries and CIA director.

US President Donald Trump notched another victory on Wednesday with the confirmation of Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state, but opposition Democrats girded for battle over several other nominations, including his pick for the US Supreme Court.

The Senate confirmed Tillerson, the former chief executive of oil giant ExxonMobil, by a vote of 56 to 43.

Critics, including most Senate Democrats, had argued Tillerson's lack of government experience and ties to Russia would not serve US diplomatic interests well. Four Democrats joined all 52 Republicans voting in favour.

With Tillerson formally sworn in on Wednesday, Trump has another key member of his national security team in place, along with his defence and homeland security secretaries and CIA director.

TRT World spoke to Kevin McAleese for more details.

Other battles loom

Democrats are determined to thoroughly vet Trump's picks for key posts. The next battles are likely to be over Betsy DeVos, his nominee for education secretary, and Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch.

Gorsuch faces a tough confirmation fight in the Republican-controlled Senate, after it refused to consider former president Barack Obama's nominee for the seat left vacant by the death of Antonin Scalia.

Trump has called on Senate Republicans to use what is known as the "nuclear option," to force through Gorsuch's confirmation by a simple majority rather than the 60 votes precedent requires. Republicans hold 52 seats in the 100-seat US Senate.