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.