- The Washington Times - Monday, January 23, 2017

Sen. Marco Rubio said Monday he’ll back Rex Tillerson as the secretary of state, clearing the path for the former ExxonMobil chief to be confirmed as soon as this week.

Mr. Rubio said he still has worries about Mr. Tillerson, but said he doesn’t want to be a roadblock to President Trump this early in the new administration. The senator said, however, that he won’t be this deferential to any future State Department nominees.

The Florida Republican had peppered Mr. Tillerson with questions at the confirmation hearing earlier this month and still says the nominee’s answers are “troubling” — including Mr. Tillerson’s refusal to blame Russian President Vladimir Putin for murders of political dissidents and journalist.

But Mr. Rubio said he’ll look past that, for now.

“Given the uncertainty that exists both at home and abroad about the direction of our foreign policy, it would be against our national interests to have this confirmation unnecessarily delayed or embroiled in controversy,” he said. “Therefore, despite my reservations, I will support Mr. Tillerson’s nomination in committee and in the full Senate.”

Mr. Rubio, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, could have been a speed bump for Mr. Tillerson, should he have insisted on opposing the pick.

Now, however, Republicans appear unified, after Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, two others who’d been concerned about Mr. Tillerson’s approach to Russia, announced this weekend that they would also back the nominee.

Democrats, still looking to defeat some of Mr. Trump’s Cabinet picks, had been cheering Mr. Rubio along. They mocked his announcement Monday.

“By ignoring his serious reservations about Tillerson’s connections to Vladimir Putin, Marco Rubio is not only rolling over for Donald Trump, he’s earning the nickname Trump gave him: Little Marco,” said Zac Petkanas, a senior adviser to the Democratic National Committee.

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