The U.S. Senate voted on Wednesday to confirm Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. The vote was mainly across party lines, but three Democratic senators broke with their colleagues and voted in favor of Tillerson.
The first was Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. This was not surprising, as last week, Manchin became the first Democratic senator to back Tillerson.
“Rex Tillerson’s extensive career will bring a unique perspective to the state department, and I believe he will provide wise counsel and objective advice to the President on our nation’s foreign policy,” Manchin said in a statement. “I look forward to working with him in a bipartisan manner in the best interest of all West Virginians and Americans.”
Manchin added that he has personally known Tillerson for years because they have both worked with Boy Scouts of America, saying that Tillerson is “honorable and patriotic.”
Senator Manchin has been criticized by those on the left for voting for every Trump cabinet nominee so far, although he did say on Wednesday that he’ll be opposing Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for Education secretary. Manchin is up for re-election in 2018 in a state where Trump won 68 percent of the vote.
The second senator to vote for Tillerson was Senator Mark Warner of Virginia. Warner had also voted for Tillerson as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. In a statement, Warner said that Tillerson would not be his first choice and that he opposes him on a number of issues but that he respects the man and his willingness to serve.
“I respect the fact that he has chosen at this point in his career to serve the nation,” Warner said. “I know that there are many people who disagree with my decision, but I believe that he will bring a more experienced, measured voice to an Administration that has so far struggled to demonstrate any rational approach to foreign policy.”
Senator Warner has voted for all of Trump’s cabinet nominees so far.
Finally, the third Democratic senator who voted for Tillerson is Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. This comes after Heitkamp met personally with Tillerson on January 18th.
“Rex Tillerson and I met about his commitment to a holistic approach to American diplomacy, and I’m glad he shares my support for soft power investments that continue to strengthen American ties with strategic partners and treaty allies,” she said in a statement at the time.
She went on to say that she “expressed concerns about his close ties to Russia,” though these concerns did not end up affecting how she voted on Wednesday. She said on Twitter today that she will continue to “closely monitor” Tillerson. She added that she has been receiving a record number of phone calls.
Of the two Independents in the Senate, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont voted against Rex Tillerson, but Senator Angus King of Maine voted for him.
“I’m going to vote for Rex Tillerson in spite of some significant reservations about Exxon Mobil and about his ties to Russia because I think he’ll give the president the kind of independent advice that he needs,” King said on Tuesday.
King said, however, that he will vote against Jeff Sessions.