|The US Senate on Monday (Jan 30) advanced the nomination of Rex Tillerson to be President Donald Trumps secretary of state, setting up a final confirmation vote for later this week.|
The new president has pressed hard to get his cabinet in place as he begins the complex task of governing. The White House has accused Senate Democrats of obstruction and delay.
The nomination of Tillerson, the former chief executive of ExxonMobil who has never served in government, advanced by a vote of 56 to 43, with four Democrats joining all 52 Republicans in support.
"He has the type of international work experience that will serve him well as the next secretary of state," Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said before the vote.
Senate Republicans have sought to speed up confirmation of Trumps other nominees, with just three of Trumps cabinet members in place so far - Secretary of Defence James Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and CIA chief Mike Pompeo, plus cabinet-rank US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.
Tillerson received a major boost earlier this month when three Republican senators who had expressed doubts about him - John McCain, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham, announced they would support Tillerson for the post despite their reservations.
Rubio had expressed concern about Tillersons position on human rights.
But he stressed last week that given the "uncertainty" about the direction of US foreign policy, "it would be against our national interests to have this confirmation unnecessarily delayed or embroiled in controversy."
Republicans hold 52 seats in the 100-seat Senate. A simple majority is required for confirmation of cabinet positions.