The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted to confirm Rex Tillerson as the secretary of state. He succeeds Senator John Kerry, who left with President Barack Obama.
The former chairman and chief executive of ExxonMobil faced a tough series of confirmation hearings and votes before being approved for the position. The 56-43 vote across party lines makes it arguably the most contentious secretary of state confirmation in recent memory.
The four Democrats and Independents who broke rank to vote for Tillerson were Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of Nebraska, Mark Warner of Virginia, Angus King of Maine, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
At times, Tillerson’s nomination looked to be in jeopardy: his links to the Russian government, in the wake of a Russian intervention in the U.S. presidential election, threatened his candidacy.
But Republicans, even hawks who strongly oppose Russian President Vladimir Putin, eventually fell in line.
Despite Tillerson’s confirmation, however, there remains a bipartisan group of senators who want to push back on Russian interference through a series of sanctions—a process that continues.
“We are waiting to see what the president’s view on the situation is, but we still think additional sanctions are necessary because of their influence [in] the elections,” Republican Sen. John McCain said.