Amid Controversy, Senate Confirms Former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson to Be Secretary of State

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate voted 56-43 in favor of recent former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be the next Secretary of State.


Rex Tillerson’s nomination was one of the most controversial and highly opposed in US history. Following Monday’s cloture vote, Democrats took to the Senate floor for 30 hours of debate, expressing intense concerns around Tillerson’s role in ExxonMobil’s climate cover-up, his refusal to take a position on the unconstitutional Muslim Ban, and his close ties to countries such as Russia and Saudi Arabia with recognized human rights abusers in power.

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"For years much of America's foreign policy was formulated to benefit the oil industry," said Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org. "Now it's being formulated by the oil industry. There's no disguising the influence any more, which should make it easier to understand and to resist."

Former vice presidential candidate Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) used his time on the floor to shine a spotlight on Rex Tillerson’s role in ExxonMobil’s decades-long and ongoing campaign to deceive the public about climate change and block action at every level. At Tillerson’s Committee hearing on January 11, the oil mogul danced around Sen. Kaine’s questions on all that Exxon knew about climate change.

Recent reports on ExxonMobil’s financials, where Tillerson spent his entire career, illustrate that Tillerson left ExxonMobil in far worse condition than when he took over. The corporation is currently under investigation by the attorney generals of Massachusetts and New York, as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“A vote for Rex Tillerson is a vote for climate disaster. Negotiating oil deals with human-rights abusing heads of state does not qualify you to lead international diplomacy," May Boeve, executive director of 350.org. "The fight against Tillerson’s nomination revealed just how much fossil fuel industry money has corrupted Congress. In the face of this corruption, we all must come together to fight for the renewable energy revolution and an economy that works for all of us.”

In the less than two weeks of this new presidency, there has been an unprecedented outpouring of global resistance to Trump’s corrupt regime: from millions participating in Women’s Marches around the world, to tens of thousands at airports protesting Trump’s Muslim Ban.

Groups will continue to demonstrate creative and cunning tactics in holding Rex Tillerson accountable in anticipation of foreign policy that prioritizes Big Oil at the expense of people and planet. Throughout the first 100 days of the Trump presidency, the People’s Climate Movement is organizing actions across the country that will culminate with a People’s Climate Mobilization on April 29 in Washington, DC.

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