Vice President Mike Pence swore in Wilbur Ross as U.S. commerce secretary on Tuesday, a day after the Senate confirmed him for the post with a 72-27 vote.
Ross is slated to become an influential voice in President Trump’s economic team, promoting American business interests in the U.S. and abroad. He is expected to begin work renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.
Republican and Democrat senators were deferential to Ross during his confirmation hearing, and he has garnered praise from former commerce secretaries.
“Mr. Ross will bring decades of business, entrepreneurial, and civic experience to this important position,” said Republican senator John Thune of South Dakota, chairman of the Commerce Committee. “I believe his extensive management experience in the private sector, and his understanding of the challenges faced by workers and businesses alike, will equip him well for the job of leading the Department of Commerce.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, however, was critical of Ross’ nomination.
“Mr. Ross has extensive ties to Russia. He plans to keep making money from his major oil shipping companies while working as commerce secretary. He’s made billions off the backs of struggling home owners,” Warren claimed Monday. “He is practically a cartoon stereotype of a Wall Street fat cat.”
In order to accept the position as commerce secretary, the billionaire investor is relinquishing his position at Diamond S. Shipping, but he will retain a stake in the company, which ships petroleum and other products.
As part of his ethics agreement, Ross has pledged not to make any decisions or take any action as commerce secretary that would benefit any company in which he has a financial interest.
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