On Monday night, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to back Rex Tillerson, President Trump’s pick for Chief Diplomat, clearing the way for approval by the full Senate.
Every nominee for the State Department’s top job in the last four decades has been approved overwhelmingly by votes from both sides, yet Tillerson needed support from former presidential candidate, Marco Rubio, to carry the committee vote. In doing so, he became the first nominee since 1977 to receive more than two “no” votes from the committee.
Despite his sharp questioning on Tillerson during the confirmation process, Rubio failed to stand up for his stated convictions, placing his party before country.
As a billionaire former Big Oil CEO, Tillerson is ill-suited for the job. Here are 5 reasons why:
- No Secretary of State should have a human rights blind spot. During his confirmation hearings, Tillerson seemed extremely uninformed or unwilling to discuss major human rights violations happening around the world. He dodged questions on Russia and the Philippines and had been at the helm of ExxonMobil during a number of human rights scandals. The U.S. often claims a moral high-ground on the global stage when it comes to human rights, but with Tillerson in charge, any statements defending people’s rights will ring hollow.
- As Secretary of State, he will be a key advisor to the President on issues such as sanctions for human rights violations by foreign governments and U.S. projects overseas. He is known to have close ties to Vladimir Putin and has cut numerous multi-billion dollar deals with the Russian government and other human rights violators including Equatorial Guinea, Venezuela and Yemen. The Obama administration struggled to practice what it preached in terms of sanctioning foreign governments who committed human rights violations. Tillerson’s appointment makes it even less likely that the U.S. will try to defend people’s rights on the global stage.
- As Secretary of State, he will guide the government’s foreign aid budget. Even more of a shift towards bringing large international companies into development project raises clear concerns. Projects to promote development and protect human rights around the world must not be sold off to the highest bidder. Experience shows us that privatizing development work benefits corporations not communities. President Trump has already re-instated the ”Global Gag Rule” which will undermine women’s health and reproductive rights internationally, tying the hands of non-governmental organizations. Any further shifts towards the corporate sector could cripple non-partisan, independent, non-sectarian human rights and development work.
- He’s a climate denier. Tillerson told the Council of Foreign Relations in New York in 2012 that climate change is “an engineering problem, and it has engineering solutions.” As Secretary of State, he will lead the U.S. delegation in the international climate change negotiations.
- During his time at ExxonMobil, the company actively lobbied to undermine international climate change agreements, despite having evidence that fossil fuel emissions were heating up the earth’s atmosphere.
These conflicts of interests mean that he is ill-suited for the office of Secretary of State, and we will continue to oppose him.