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The Brief: Trump reportedly taps first Texan for Cabinet position

NBC News reported Saturday that President-elect Donald Trump had allegedly tapped Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be his secretary of state. In a tweet Sunday morning, Trump called Tillerson “a world class player and dealmaker.”

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The Big Story

On Saturday, NBC News reported that President-elect Donald Trump had allegedly tapped Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be his secretary of state, turning to a Texan to be the country's top diplomat. If the reports are confirmed, Tillerson will likely be a contentious appointment due to his lack of formal diplomatic experience and close ties to oil-rich Russia, a controversial force in the this year's presidential race. As of Sunday night, Trump’s transition team has not confirmed the selection. In a tweet Sunday morning, however, Trump called Tillerson “a world class player and dealmaker.” Here’s the story so far:

If Trump selects Tillerson to serve on his Cabinet, he will be the first Texan selected. The field of candidates for secretary of state originally — and most notably — included 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, an ardent critic of Trump during the 2016 race.

Exxon Mobil is currently in a legal battle with state attorneys general investigating whether the company downplayed the risks of manmade climate change to the public and shareholders. However, Exxon argues in court filings that the two states investigating — New York and Massachusetts — have “joined together with each other as well as others known and unknown to conduct improper and politically motivated investigations of Exxon Mobil in a coordinated effort to silence and intimidate one side of the public policy debate on how to address climate change.”

Tillerson’s climate views are more progressive compared to some of Trump’s other high-profile appointments. For years now, Tillerson has expressed support for a revenue-neutral carbon tax as a means of reducing earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions. In a 2009 speech in Washington, D.C., he called it “the most efficient means of reflecting the cost of carbon in all economic decisions — from investments made by companies to fuel their requirements to the product choices made by consumers.”

Before word got out about Tillerson, the Lone Star State had come up empty in Trump's Cabinet appointments. Trump has passed over at least three Texans, including U.S. Reps. Jeb Hensarling of Dallas and Michael McCaul of Austin, for jobs for which they were said to be under consideration. On Sunday morning, however, Bloomberg reported that former Gov. Rick Perry is said to be the leading candidate for energy secretary.

What We're Reading

(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

Inside a tumultuous week for Dallas Police & Fire Pension System, KERA News 

Facing pressure to cut special education, Texas schools shut out English Language Learners, Houston Chronicle

Spotlight: The San Antonio way, The Boston Globe 

San Antonio universities grapple with Trump’s promise to remove DACA, San Antonio Express-News

On the El Paso border, Trump’s appeal with Latinos defies expectations, The Washington Post 

Today in TribTalk

"In 2015, Democrats were less frequently able to keep legislation they opposed off of the floor or gain majority backing for legislation they supported than in previous sessions."

— Mark P. Jones, political scientist

Trib Events for the Calendar

•   Health Care and the 85th Legislature on Dec. 15 at UT Health Science Center San Antonio - Pestana Lecture Hall

•   Trivia Night on Jan. 8 at The Highball 

•   A Conversation with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Jan. 11 at The Austin Club 

•   A Conversation with the University of Houston's Renu Khator on Jan. 12 at The Austin Club

•   A Conversation with Reps. Dustin Burrows & Drew Darby on Jan. 19 at Howard College – West Texas Training Center

•   A Conversation with Sen. Kel Seliger & Rep. Brooks Landgraf on Feb. 17 at Odessa College – Saulsbury Campus Center

•   A Conversation with Reps. Senfronia Thompson & James White on March 31 at Prairie View A&M University – W.A. Tempton Memorial Student Center

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