- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 22, 2017

Two key Republicans said Sunday they’ll vote to confirm Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, ending weeks of speculation and making it far more likely he’ll succeed in the upcoming vote.

Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who had reservations about whether Mr. Tillerson would be strong enough on Russia, said in a joint statement that they’re satisfied he’ll be “effective” in pushing for U.S. interests when it comes to relations with President Vladimir Putin.

“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,” they said.

Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican who challenged President Trump in last year’s GOP primary, also has signaled concerns about Mr. Tillerson, though he hasn’t said how he would vote.

But with Mr. Graham and Mr. McCain supporting the nominee, it would take Mr. Rubio and several other defections to derail Mr. Tillerson in a floor vote.

Mr. Tillerson is the former chief of ExxonMobil, the energy giant that had extensive dealings with Russia.

During his confirmation hearing, Mr. Tillerson was grilled on whether he would confront Mr. Putin, and he insisted he saw the threat from Russia “clear-eyed.” He said Russia does pose a “danger” to U.S. interests.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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