Wilbur Ross, President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Commerce, was easily confirmed by the Senate in a 72-27 vote Monday.
Ross, a billionaire, made his fortune restructuring failing companies. He had a particular interest in coal and steel companies, two industries Trump pledged to revitalize during his 2016 campaign.
As secretary of commerce, the 79-year-old will have a heavy hand in negotiating trade deals, as well as renegotiating the agreements Trump railed against during the campaign, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement. Like Trump, Ross has been an outspoken critic of free trade agreements and feels the deals have hurt working-class Americans.
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Ross and Trump have known each other since the 1990s when Ross helped the former real estate mogul persuade investors not to oust him from control of his failing Taj Mahal casino.
Ross’ vast fortune was a top concern of lawmakers during his confirmation hearings. He promised to divest most of his assets and relinquish a number of positions he holds for other various companies. He also has pledged not to make new investments once confirmed.
The Trump administration has lamented the pace in which the Senate has approved Trump’s Cabinet. Democrats, without the votes to stop any Trump nominees from confirmation without GOP help, have sought to delay the approval of some of Trump’s most contentious picks. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos needed Vice President Mike Pence to cast an historic tiebreaking vote to push through her confirmation earlier this month.
Ross’ swearing in will take place Tuesday at the White House, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said.