Senate approves Rex Tillerson for secretary of State

The Senate confirmed former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of State  on Wednesday, even as Democrats blocked progress on other Cabinet nominees chosen by President Trump.

The vote puts a man who has negotiated business deals with countries around the world, including some hostile to the United States, in position to negotiate on behalf of Trump in matters of war and peace, climate change and human rights.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, praised Tillerson before Wednesday’s vote.

“His experience and aptitude and talent will be put to work for the American people,” Cornyn said. “He’s a man of character who believes in putting his country first.”

Tillerson’s first task may be to calm a State Department where nearly 1,000 diplomats signed a letter of dissent objecting to Trump’s executive order that temporarily suspends the U.S. refugee program and bars immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa.