World

Trump gets his secretary of state but other fights loom

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump notched a victory with Mr Rex Tillerson anointed as his secretary of state, but opposition Democrats girded for battle over other nominations.

The Senate confirmed Mr Tillerson, the former chief executive of ExxonMobil, by a vote of 56 to 43, before he was sworn in at the White House on Wednesday.

Democrats had argued that Mr Tillerson's lack of government experience and ties to Russia would not serve US diplomatic interests well. But four Democrats ultimately joined all 52 Republicans voting in favour.

With Mr Tillerson sworn in, Mr Trump has another key member of his national security team in place, along with his defence and homeland security secretaries and CIA director.

"This is a man that is respected all over the world before he even begins," Mr Trump said at the White House, thanking Mr Tillerson. "He left a very good job for this, I want to tell you."

But battles loomed on Capitol Hill over other key nominees, including education secretary-designate Betsy DeVos and Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch.

"He'll be approved very quickly," Mr Trump said of Mr Gorsuch, who would fill the seat on the high court left empty since conservative justice Antonin Scalia died last year.

But that confidence belies what looks to be a tough confirmation fight in the Republican-controlled Senate, after Mr Trump's party refused for much of last year to fill the vacant court seat with Mr Barack Obama's nominee. - AFP

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