A crucial player in President Trump’s trade agenda will finally be allowed to get on the field.
The U.S. Senate voted 72-27 on Monday evening to confirm billionaire Wilbur Ross as Trump’s commerce secretary.
The green light comes nearly three months after Trump first tapped the famed investor for his cabinet and four weeks after a Senate committee unanimously voted in favor of his nomination.
But the confirmation vote was not without controversy. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer took to the floor minutes beforehand to protest the White House refusing to release written answers from Ross about the Bank of Cyprus, a bank he is vice chairman of that has links to Russia.
Democrats had demanded Ross explain his connections to Viktor Vekselberg, a Bank of Cyprus shareholder who is described as a friend to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Schumer, who voted against Ross’s nomination, said this inquiry was “perfectly reasonable” given how “questions about connections between the Trump administration and Russia have proliferated” in recent days. Schumer called it another example of the Trump administration “abandoning transparency.”
Ross has indicated he will step down from the Bank of Cyprus after he takes office.
The White House is expected to hold a swearing-in ceremony for the new commerce secretary on Tuesday prior to Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress.
Ross is expected to be a powerful figure in the Trump administration, leading the way on efforts to renegotiate NAFTA, the controversial trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.
The 79-year-old will also be a key voice on other trade matters as well as on Trump’s efforts to accelerate economic growth by slashing taxes and ramping up infrastructure spending.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: CNN Money, Matt Egan