Senate confirms Trump's Commerce Secretary

Senate approves nomination of Wilbur Ross as Commerce Secretary by a majority of 72-27.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Wilbur Ross
Wilbur Ross

The Senate on Monday approved the nomination of Wilbur Ross to lead President Donald Trump’s Commerce Department.

The final vote on Ross was 72-27, according to The Hill.

Ross was widely expected to be approved after he overcame a procedural hurdle earlier this month in a 66-31 vote that included the support of more than a dozen Democrats.

Ross’s nomination has been largely uncontroversial, though Democrats are raising fresh concerns about whether he has ties to Russia, the report said.

In a letter obtained by McClatchy earlier this month, they questioned Ross's relationship with Viktor Vekselberg, a shareholder at a bank where Ross still sits on the board.

Vekselberg is friends with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and was formerly one of the directors of the Russian state-controlled oil giant Rosneft.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) separately sent Ross a letter on Friday asking him to answer nearly a dozen questions on his “Russian banking ties.”

“The United States Senate and the American public deserve to know the full extent of your connections with Russia and your knowledge of any ties between the Trump Administration, Trump Campaign, or Trump Organization and the Bank of Cyprus,” Booker wrote in the letter, according to The Hill.

However, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), the top Democrat on the Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said on Monday that he had spoken with Ross about the matter and had been assured that Ross only met with the bank’s Russian investors once in 2014.

“That was before the presidential campaign,” he said. “He also assured me that he knows of no loans or interaction between the bank or anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign or organization.”

Ross, who served as an adviser to Trump during the election campaign, made a fortune rehabilitating American steel companies, and later fashioned his corporate turnaround experience into a private equity investment company.

He is expected to be a significant player in trade negotiations. The vote comes one day after Trump signed an executive order announcing his plan to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.