How You Can Stop the CEO of Exxon From Becoming Secretary of State

by Naomi Ages

December 14, 2016

You are what stands between Exxon and the White House — so let’s get to work.

Protest at ExxonMobil Shareholders Meeting in Dallas

It’s official, Donald Trump has assembled the most anti-environment Cabinet in history.

It seemed bad when he nominated a fossil fuel shill who’s spent the better part of his career suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to lead it. Then it got worse when he chose a climate denier with ties to the Dakota Access Pipeline to head the Department of Energy.

But now, Trump has outdone himself in nominating Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State. Pruitt and Perry might have spent their political careers doing the fossil fuel industry’s bidding, but Tillerson is the industry. Instead of just letting Exxon buy influence in our political system, Trump is handing them the keys to one of the most important jobs in government.

But this fight is not over yet.

Every one of Trump’s nominations, Tillerson included, must now go through a grueling two-step confirmation process within the Senate. And that means there are two ways we can stop him from spreading the fossil fuel industry’s agenda as U.S. foreign policy.

Step One: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Each Cabinet nominee is first grilled by the Senate committee related to that particular position. For Tillerson, that means the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

He’ll have to respond to a lengthy questionnaire, and members of the committee will do their own research into the candidate. This includes hearing feedback from constituents, advocacy groups, and people like you. The committee then holds a hearing in which each member is allowed to question the nominee, and Senators who oppose the nominee will raise their objections and doubts. Once the hearing is finished, the committee votes. If a majority of the committee votes against the nominee, they will not be confirmed.

Step Two: Full Senate Vote

If a majority of the Committee votes for the nominee, then the next step is for the entire Senate to vote. Tillerson only needs 51 votes out of 100 to be confirmed.

Here’s What You Can Do

Activists like you and me need to make this process as grueling as possible for Tillerson (and the rest of Trump’s terrible nominees). Here’s how we do that:

  • Tell your senators that you oppose Rex Tillerson — call 1-855-636-8150 to get connected to their offices. Senate staffers have to record every call and every visit and report them to their bosses; they will hear from you.
  • Tell Democrat Senators to vote against him. Following his nomination, Senate Democrats were quick to voice their opposition to Tillerson. Make sure they follow through.
  • Tell Republican Senators to vote against him (yes, Republicans). It will take a few Republicans in the Senate to tip the majority against Tillerson. Some, like John McCain (R-AZ) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) have already signaled they might flip.
  • Tell your friends to tell their senators to vote against him. We’ll help — text RESIST to 877-877 to receive weekly tips on how to call your representatives and raise your voice for change.

Can This Actually Happen?

Yes. In fact, it already has — to one of Trump’s nominees.

In 1986, the Senate blocked Jeff Sessions — Trump’s nominee for Attorney General — from becoming a federal judge, mostly because they deemed him too racist. Really. And the Senate didn’t even let one of George W. Bush’s Supreme Court nominees get to the hearing stage. She withdrew her own name because, as many Senators and outraged citizens pointed out, she was wildly underqualified.

Tillerson is more than just unqualified — he’s a threat to people and the planet. Make sure he doesn’t get to become Secretary of State. Take action here!

Naomi Ages

By Naomi Ages

Naomi Ages is a senior political strategist with Greenpeace International.

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