Appointments

Tillerson clears Senate procedural hurdle, Democrats delay two Trump nominations

Jan. 11, 2017:  Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Jan. 11, 2017: Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

President Donald Trump's pick for secretary of state cleared a key Senate procedural hurdle Monday as Democrats delayed scheduled committee votes on two other nominations.

The Senate voted 56-43 to cap debate on the nomination of former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as America's top diplomat at 30 hours. The nomination required the backing of 51 senators to remain on track. Three Democrats —Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Mark Warner of Virginia and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — as well as independent Sen. Angus King of Maine voted to end debate. 

Before the vote, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., pressed unsuccessfully for a delay until Tillerson answered for Trump's executive order barring individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days.

A final vote to confirm Tillerson will likely be held Wednesday. 

Earlier Monday, the Senate Finance Committee pushed back a scheduled 6 p.m. vote on Trump's nomination of Steven Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary. That vote will now take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Democrats said they requested the delay to allow lawmakers to attend a candlelight vigil protesting Trump's so-called "extreme vetting" order.

Mnuchin clashed with Democrats during a lengthy confirmation hearing on Jan. 19. He was accused of failing to protect thousands of homeowners from unnecessary foreclosures when he headed OneWest bank and for failing to disclose nearly $100 million in assets on forms he filed with the committee.

Mnuchin called his failure to disclose assets an oversight. He said he was proud of his tenure at OneWest, saying he had worked to protect as many homeowners as possible from losing their homes to foreclosure.

Opponents of Mnuchin's nomination have been running ads in states which were hit hard by foreclosures during the housing crisis in an effort to bring pressure on Republicans to join Democrats in opposing Mnuchin's nomination.

On Monday, Warner, a member of the Finance Committee, announced his opposition to Mnuchin.

"Throughout the confirmation process, Mr. Mnuchin has failed to adequately demonstrate that he will be a forceful advocate for innovative policies that will make the U.S. economy work better for the majority of Americans," Warner said in a statement.

Also Monday, the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship announced that the meeting to consider the nomination of Linda McMahon to head the Small Business Administration had been postponed. McMahon is best known for being the former President and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment. The vote to advance her nomination is also expected Tuesday.

Fox News' Chad Pergram and the Associated Press contributed to this report.