© Greg Nash
The Senate is moving forward with Wilbur Ross's nomination to lead the Commerce Department.
The chamber on Friday voted 66-31 in favor of cloture on Ross, setting up a confirmation vote later this month. Sixteen Democrats joined with all Republicans present in backing Ross, who needed a simple 51-vote majority to overcome Friday's procedural hurdle.
Senators aren't expected to be able to finish his nomination before leaving town for the week-long President's Day recess.
McConnell tried to get a deal for a final vote on his nomination for Friday, but Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Energy: Trump set to sign offshore drilling order Sanders: Trump couldn't be 'more wrong' on climate Overnight Energy: Trump orders review of national monuments, claiming ‘egregious abuse’ MORE (D-Ore.) objected.
With Democrats able to drag out an extra 30 hours of debate, a final vote is expected as early as the evening Feb. 27.
Democrats raised fresh concerns about Ross’s nomination this week, questioning whether he has ties to Russia.
In a letter obtained by McClatchy, Dems 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 formally one of the directors of the Russian state-controlled oil giant Rosneft.
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