U.S. President Donald Trump's nomination of Rex Tillerson for secretary of state cleared a Senate hurdle on January 30, setting the stage for what is likely to be a heated debate over Trump's order banning travel from seven Muslim countries.
Senators voted 56-43 to limit debate on the nomination to 30 hours, putting it on track for a vote on January 31 or February 1.
Democratic leader Chuck Schumer pressed unsuccessfully to delay the confirmation vote, insisting Tillerson should answer for Trump's order banning people from seven Middle Eastern and African countries from entering the United States for 90 days.
Trump insists the order will protect the nation against attacks by "foreign terrorists," though recent terrorist incidents in the United States have been carried out either by U.S. citizens or by individuals whose families weren't from the nations singled out.
Although many Democrats oppose Tillerson, several Republicans would have to join them to derail the nomination. That appeared unlikely, despite criticism from some Republicans about the White House's failure to consult with the departments of Justice and Homeland Security about the travel ban.
The Senate debate is also expected to focus on whether Trump will lift U.S. sanctions against Russia.