The Latest: Sen. Kaine Says He'll Oppose Tillerson for State

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Congress (all times local):

11:30 a.m.

Sen. Tim Kaine says he’ll vote against allowing Rex Tillerson to become secretary of state.

The Virginia Democrat says in a statement that Tillerson failed to demonstrate the “awareness, judgment or independence” the senator expects from a person aspiring to be the nation’s chief diplomat.

President-elect Donald Trump selected Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, for the post last month.

Kaine is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and also was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in last year’s presidential election. The panel held a confirmation hearing for Tillerson Wednesday.

Kaine says Tillerson declined to answer his repeated questions about whether ExxonMobil had long understood the connection between CO2 emissions and climate change but instead waged “a public campaign to misinform the public about this scientific consensus.”


10 a.m.

Committee Republicans and Democrats are sparring over how to handle an ethics challenge involving President-elect Donald Trump.

GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah wants to privately question Walter Shaub, director of the Office of Government Ethics. Shaub has raised questions about what Trump plans to do with his business when he takes over the White House. Trump is planning to put his assets in a trust, but allow his children to manage them.

The top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said Friday in a statement that the panel should protect whistleblowers and independent government watchdogs — not retaliate against them for political reasons.

He says Shaub should appear at a public hearing.


3:30 a.m.

Congress is on the cusp of completing the first — and by far the easiest — step toward gutting President Barack Obama’s divisive health care law.

Friday’s vote in the House would adopt a House-Senate measure to make it easier for a subsequent “Obamacare” repeal bill to advance through the Senate without the threat of a Democratic filibuster.

The legislation doesn’t need to be signed by the president and wouldn’t actually change a word of the hotly contested health care law.

But its passage is crucial if Republicans controlling Congress are to keep their longstanding promise to scuttle the law, which has delivered health coverage to about 20 million people but is saddled with problems such as rapidly rising premiums and large co-payments.

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