The Latest: Trump swears in Tillerson to lead State Dept.

The Latest: Trump swears in Tillerson to lead State Dept.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's Cabinet nominees (all times local):

7:18 p.m.

President Donald Trump is swearing in former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state.

Trump says in the Oval Office that it is "time to bring a clear-eyed focus to foreign affairs." The president is praising Tillerson's background, telling him, "Your whole life has prepared you for this moment."

The Senate approved Tillerson's nomination earlier Wednesday on a vote of 56-43, brushing back efforts by Democrats to derail the oil executive's bid to become the nation's top diplomat.

Tillerson will need to deal with the fallout from Trump's executive order on immigration and a temporary travel ban preventing people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.


3:45 p.m.

Previous presidents, both Republicans and Democrats, had a much easier time securing Senate confirmation for their nominees for secretary of state than President Donald Trump.

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, on a largely party-line vote of 56-43. Three Democrats — Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Mark Warner of Virginia — and independent Angus King of Maine joined Republicans in backing the choice.

The vote stands in stark contrast to previous roll calls in which nominees were backed overwhelmingly.

The Senate confirmed President Barack Obama's choice of John Kerry 94-3 and Hillary Clinton 94-2. President George W. Bush's nominee Condoleezza Rice easily won confirmation 85-13. Colin Powell was confirmed for the job by voice vote.


3 p.m.

The Republican-led Senate has confirmed Rex Tillerson as President Donald Trump's secretary of state.

Senators voted 56-43 largely along party lines to approve Tillerson's nomination to be the nation's chief diplomat.

Most Senate Democrats opposed Tillerson's nomination, angering Republicans who considered the former Exxon Mobil CEO to be highly qualified for the post.

Sen. Ben Cardin, the Foreign Relations Committee's top Democrat, says he feared Tillerson would be a "yes man" and would not be able to prevent Trump from pursuing a misguided foreign policy that leads the country "on a march of folly."

But Republicans had the numbers to push Tillerson's nomination through. They got help from several Democrats who crossed party lines.

Tillerson's ties to Russia and his stand on sanctioning Moscow have been a point of contention.


2:40 p.m.

A spokesman for Andrew Puzder says the Labor secretary-nominee is working to divest his assets so he can take office as part of President Donald Trump's Cabinet.

Puzder says he is "fully committed to becoming secretary of Labor."

In a statement to The Associated Press, Puzder says he's looking forward to his confirmation hearing, which has been postponed at least three times.

Spokesman George Thompson says Puzder's work to divest assets is complicated because his fast food empire, CKE Restaurants Inc., is a private company.

The statement comes as Democrats and their allies opposed to Puzder's nomination have raised questions about his fitness for the post.

Puzder still has not turned in the required paperwork detailing his plan to avoid conflicts of interest.


2:25 p.m.

Two Republican senators have announced their opposition to Betsy DeVos for education secretary.

Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska both say they cannot support DeVos, a wealthy Republican donor and school choice activist. Both said in Senate floor speeches Wednesday that DeVos' commitment to the nation's public schools is in question in light of her long-held support for vouchers and charter schools.

If all other GOP senators support DeVos as expected, and all Democrats oppose her, she would end up with a 50-50 vote in the Senate and Vice President Mike Pence would have to break the tie to confirm her.

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