Illinois senators oppose Tillerson, other Trump nominees


Daily file photo by Sam Krevlin

Sen. Dick Durbin looks on at then-Representative Tammy Duckworth as she accepts victory in her race for the Senate in November. Both senators voted against Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today.

Nora Shelly, City Editor

Both Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) voted against the nomination of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today and have shown opposition to other Trump administration nominees.

In a statement, Durbin said he was “deeply disturbed” that Tillerson was not concerned with the Russian cyber attacks during the election reported by national intelligence agencies and that he would potentially drop sanctions against Russia.

“Secretary Tillerson’s close personal and business ties with President Putin give me no confidence that he would be an effective force in America’s dealings with Russia,” he said in the statement.

There have been votes on six of the nominees so far. Both Durbin and Duckworth voted against the confirmation of CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and voted for four others, including Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

Duckworth said in a statement she was “impressed” by Mattis’s “thoughtful, strategic thinking” when they met.

“General Mattis knows as well as I do the true costs of war, and he understands the many sacrifices the men and women of our Armed Forces have made,” she said in the statement. “I look forward to working with the new Secretary of Defense to keep our nation safe.”

Both Duckworth and Durbin have expressed doubts over President Donald Trump’s nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to Attorney General. Sessions has been criticized for not pledging to defend federal civil rights statutes.

Durbin, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, voted against his nomination in the committee on Wednesday.

“Wherever there is an effort to suppress votes, wherever there is voter discrimination we need to stand up and speak out … and I do not have confidence Senator Sessions, as attorney general, will do that,” he said.

Durbin also criticized Sessions for saying he had not yet read the unclassified document detailing Russia’s potential involvement in the presidential election.

To do so was “either willful blindness or willful ignorance,” Durbin said. Sessions has also not said he would stop an investigation into potential Russian interference in the election.

“That, to me, disqualifies him,” Durbin said.

The judiciary committee voted to move Sessions’ nomination to a full Senate vote on Wednesday. Duckworth said in a statement she would oppose his nomination.

Duckworth is also opposed to the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. Duckworth said in a statement she was concerned with DeVos’ “lack of experience and expertise in the field.”

Duckworth has also cited DeVos’s position on the Americans with Disabilities Act as a disqualifier. DeVos said at a committee meeting she would leave enforcement of the law in schools up to the states.

“Much of my life today has been made possible by civil rights protections like the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Duckworth, who lost both of her legs while serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq. “Ms. DeVos has failed a stunningly basic test, leaving me to conclude that she is not qualified to lead the Department of Education.”

Both Duckworth and Durbin have signalled they will push for a fair hearing for Judge Neil Gorsuch, who was appointed by Trump yesterday to fill the Supreme Court seat left open by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last year.

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said in a statement the court seat was “stolen” by Senate Republicans. The seat has gone unfilled for nearly a year after Senate hearings for President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland were stalled.

Schakowsky, does not vote on Gorsuch’s confirmation, said his record “puts him on the wrong side of issues” such as equal pay and workers’ rights.

“Senate Republicans demonstrated an unprecedented disdain for President Obama and our Constitution by denying Judge Merrick Garland even a hearing,” she said in the statement. “Now, they are seeking to move a controversial nominee with extreme views that would erode the rights of Americans.”

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