U.S. Senate panel advances Ross, Chao nominations on voice vote

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By David Lawder

<span class="articleLocation”>A U.S. Senate committee swiftly approved
Republican President Donald Trump’s nominees for commerce and
transportation secretaries by voice vote on Tuesday, signaling
that they will face little resistance to approval by the full
Senate.

Members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation
Committee voiced no objections to the nominations of billionaire
investor Wilbur Ross, 79, as commerce secretary and veteran
government administrator Elaine Chao, 63, as transportation
secretary.

Republicans control the Commerce committee by a single vote.

The single voice vote for the two nominees marked a stark
contrast from Monday’s 11-10 vote by the Senate Foreign
Relations committee to advance the nomination of former Exxon
Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state.
All Democrats on that panel voted against Tillerson.

Ross, a corporate turnaround expert who made his fortune
investing in distressed steel, textile, auto parts companies and
banks, is expected to take a lead role in shaping Trump’s trade
policies. These are aimed at protecting U.S. manufacturers from
imports, renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA) and pursuing bilateral trade deals after Trump signed an
order on Monday to cancel the 12-country Trans-Pacific
Partnership trade deal.

Chao would play a key role in Trump’s plan to significantly
raise government spending on U.S. infrastructure, including
roads and bridges, an initiative that has strong support from
Democrats and many Republicans.



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