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Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2107, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Rex Tillerson has been confirmed as the next secretary of state

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Rex Tillerson, the former chairman of ExxonMobil, was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday in a 56 to 42 vote, the New York Times reported.

Tillerson's business ties to Russia evoked a contentious debate among congressional lawmakers who questioned whether his appointment as the 69th secretary of state would breach ethical codes.

Kellyanne Conway called Tillerson an "excellent choice."

Sen. Bob Corker, R-TN, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which oversaw the confirmation process, said he has no doubts about Tillerson's ability to effectively lead U.S. foreign policy in the right direction.


"Mr. Tillerson led a global enterprise with 75,000 employees, possesses deep relationships around the world, and understands the critical role of US leadership," Corker said in a statement. "He has expressed a commitment to defend American values and to restore U.S. credibility by strengthening old alliances and building new ones."

Tillerson's path to confirmation remained uncertain until one of his most vocal opponents, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, confirmed he would back the 64-year-old as the top diplomat. 

"I have no doubts about Mr. Tillerson’s qualifications and patriotism," Rubio said in a statement. "He has an impressive record of leadership and the proven ability to manage a large and complex organization. What I focused on from the beginning is whether as secretary of state he will make the defense of liberty, democracy and human rights a priority."

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