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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Sen. Rubio faces key vote on Tillerson -- and, by extension, Trump



It’s decision day for Sen. Marco Rubio.

After high-profile showdown with Rex Tillerson, President Trump’s pick for secretary of state, Rubio will have vote for or against him when the Foreign Relations Committee meets this afternoon.

As of Sunday night, Rubio had not said how he will vote. Sunday morning, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who share Rubio’s hawkish outlook, announced they would support Tillerson, who is expected to get confirmed.

How Rubio votes, however, could determine how easy that path is.

A committee vote against Tillerson would invite a backlash among Trump supporters, if not the president himself, but it could also solidify Rubio’s backing from Republicans who remain skeptical of Trump and his administration’s ties to Russia.

Rubio aggressively questioned Tillerson during hearings at one point asking, "Is Vladimir Putin a war criminal?"

Tillerson replied, "I would not use that term."

Tillerson no doubt has worked behind the scenes to allay Rubio’s concerns, as he did with McCain and Graham.

“Though we still have concerns about his past dealings with the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin, we believe that Mr. Tillerson can be an effective advocate for U.S. interests," they said in a statement. "The views that Mr. Tillerson has expressed, both privately and publicly during the confirmation process, give us confidence that he will be a champion for a strong and engaged role for America in the world.”

[Last modified: Sunday, January 22, 2017 10:25pm]


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