In our news wrap Monday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted through the nomination of Rex Tillerson to be the next secretary of state, clearing the way for his confirmation by the full Senate. Also, some Republicans raised questions about President Trump's move by executive action to rein in Obamacare.
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In the day's other news: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted through the nomination of Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state. They voted along party lines, and they sent it to the full Senate. That came after Republican Marco Rubio of Florida announced his support. He'd clashed with Tillerson at the confirmation hearing.
Separately, the president nominated former U.S. Representative Heather Wilson of New Mexico to be secretary of the Air Force. She is a retired Air Force captain.
The new president's move to rein in Obamacare is raising questions within his own party. Hours after his inauguration, Mr. Trump ordered federal agencies to waive or delay parts of the law if they impose financial burdens on states. His directive gave no details.
Today, a leading Republican senator, Susan Collins of Maine, said it's not clear what that means.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, R-Maine:
I think that the executive order is very confusing. Until there is a secretary in place who can interpret the regulations or do the rule-making to rescind regulations, it's very difficult to say what the impact of the executive order is going to be.
Collins is offering her own legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act.
The death toll has reached 20 after a rare January outbreak of tornadoes hit the Deep South over the weekend. Fifteen of the victims died in South Georgia. Officials in one hard-hit county made a desperate plea today for federal help, and complained they're not getting any.
CHRISTOPHER COHILAS, Dougherty County Commission, Georgia:
The assistance, the boots on the ground, the reasons why the federal government exists to help in situations like this. We're not asking for money right now. We're asking for resources. And to get caught up in the bureaucratic red tape at a time of this amount of human suffering is disgraceful.
Thirty-nine possible twisters were reported across the Southeast from Saturday morning through Sunday evening. All but nine were in Georgia.
On the Pacific Coast, a winter storm system is moving out of California tonight, after record rainfall touched off floods. Nearly four inches fell south of Los Angeles on Sunday, flooding major roadways around Long Beach and even washing away cars. Parts of the San Francisco area also faced flooding, and heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada shut down a highway. The storm is blamed for four deaths.
Representatives of the Syrian government and rebel groups sat down in Kazakstan today for their first peace talks in nine months. They traded accusations, and there was little sign of progress. The negotiations, hosted by Russia, Turkey and Iran, are aimed at extending a shaky cease-fire set up just last month. The U.S. is not directly involved.
China's government is launching a new crackdown on attempts to get around its sweeping Internet censorship. Beijing said today that a 14-month campaign will aim to — quote — "clean up" Internet service providers and target unauthorized connections. The goal is to bar China's 730 million Internet users from accessing overseas websites without permission.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 27 points to close back below 19800. The Nasdaq fell two, and the S&P 500 slipped six.
And an upbeat report today on the health of former President George H.W. Bush. Doctors in Houston say he's ready to leave intensive care after being admitted nine days ago for pneumonia. His wife, Barbara, was discharged from the same hospital today after recovering from bronchitis.