The Latest: Dem presses Tillerson on “mindset of an oilman”

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on activities in Congress (all times EST):

10:02 a.m.

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of state should make clear how he plans to pivot from the “mindset of oilman” to that of the nation’s top diplomat.

Sen. Ben Cardin made the distinction at Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson’s confirmation hearing Wednesday, saying there’s a difference between being driven by profits and serving as the president’s top adviser on critical foreign policy issues.

Cardin also criticized Tillerson for not mentioning in his prepared opening statement to the committee didn’t address Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election as detailed last week by U.S. intelligence agencies. The president-elect has been dismissive of the findings.

Democrats say they are concerned about Tillerson’s business ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. They are expected to press Tillerson on whether he agrees that more and tougher sanctions against Russia are needed. Putin awarded Tillerson the Order of Friendship in 2013.

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9 a.m.

A group allied with House Republican leaders says it is spending $1 million for a TV ad praising GOP efforts to replace President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul with “a new path forward.”

Repealing Obama’s law is Republicans’ major legislative initiative this year.

The American Action Network was presenting the ad nationally during a “town hall” with House Speaker Paul Ryan on CNN Thursday. It will also be broadcast this month in the districts of 10 House Republicans who won tight 2016 elections and five other senior GOP lawmakers.

The ad features soft-focus shots of happy families and never mentions Obama’s name.

The announcer says Republicans will provide “more choices and better care at lower costs” without “disrupting existing coverage.”

She says, “House Republicans have a plan to get there.”