Rubio Opposition to Tillerson May Trigger Rare Senate Move
If he votes no, will secretary of state nominee's name go to full Senate anyway?
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2017 9:42 AM CST
Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Marco Rubio questions Rex Tillerson.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
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(Newser) – When secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson testified before the Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, he faced the toughest scrutiny from Marco Rubio. The pair had a a number of testy exchanges, with Rubio skeptical that the ExxonMobil chief would be as tough as he needed to be on Russia in particular. As Quartz explains, this raises a potentially serious problem for Donald Trump's nominee: The committee has 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats, meaning if Rubio votes against Tillerson, that could prevent the committee from sending his name to the full Senate for a final vote. (The GOP's Lindsey Graham also sounded a bit skeptical, notes CNN.) "I’m prepared to do what’s right," said Rubio after the hearing, per Real Clear Politics. "I'm not analyzing it from a partisan standpoint."

All of which sets up three scenarios: The most likely seems to be that Rubio will vote yes, content with having made his point about Russia. The second is that he'll vote no and Republicans will find a Democrat on the panel to flip. The third scenario is perhaps the least likely, but also "fascinating," writes blogger Allahpundit at Hot Air: In this case, the committee votes against Tillerson, but Mitch McConnell, under pressure from Trump, sends his name to the full Senate anyway. The Senate then has a tough decision: "Do they defer to the committee by voting no on Tillerson, knowing how angry Trump will be? Or do they make Trump happy by voting to confirm," which sets a precedent for ignoring committee judgments and thus makes "plum committee assignments" less valuable than they used to be.

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