Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick

Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick
© 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. 
 
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McConnell tried to get a deal for a final vote on his nomination for Friday, but Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyMerkley: Trump 'absolutely' tried to intimidate Comey Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Dems urge Sessions to reject AT&T-Time Warner merger 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.
 
The Democrats who voted in favor of Ross were Sens. Michael BennetMichael BennetDems step up attacks on GOP ObamaCare bill Trump welcomes Gorsuch on first Supreme Court visit Why higher education is in need of regulatory relief MORE (Colo.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampSenate Dem undecided on 2018 reelection run Trump ‘regulatory czar’: Two-for-one rule can work Congress should just say no to more green energy handouts MORE (N.D.), Tim KaineTim KaineLive coverage: Senate Dems hold talkathon to protest GOP health plan Trump supporter who lost tight Va. governor primary weighs Senate run Northam defeats Sanders-backed candidate in Va. gov primary MORE (Va.), Bill NelsonBill NelsonWeek ahead in tech: Lawmakers turn focus to self-driving cars Senate panel unveils aviation bill with consumer protections, drone fix Driverless cars speed onto political agenda MORE (Fla.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenDems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity Senate overwhelmingly passes Russia sanctions deal Russia sanctions deal clears key Senate hurdle MORE (N.H.), Jon TesterJon TesterOvernight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Trump's 'regulatory czar' advances in Senate Gianforte causes stir after becoming newest House member MORE (Montana), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharTime to get Trump’s new antitrust cop on the beat Going national with automatic voter registration Wildfires won't stop at the edge of public land — sustainability policy shouldn't either MORE (Minn.), Chris CoonsChris CoonsFuneral for the filibuster: GOP will likely lay Senate tool to rest Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Overnight Tech: Uber CEO resigns | Trump's Iowa tech trip | Dems push Sessions to block AT&T-Time Warner deal | Lawmakers warned on threat to election systems | MORE (Del.), Tom CarperTom CarperDems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity Overnight Energy: Lawmakers challenge Trump's proposed EPA cuts Overnight Energy: Tillerson maintains support for Paris deal despite Trump decision MORE (Del.), Mark WarnerMark WarnerElection hacking fears turn heat on Homeland Security Are Democrats trying to pin the blame for their own sins on Russia? Policymakers forget duty to protect taxpayers from financial failures MORE (Va.), Angus KingAngus KingElection hacking fears turn heat on Homeland Security Zinke hits Dems for delaying Interior nominees Angus King: I’m sure Flynn will 'appear before the committee one way or another' MORE (I-Maine) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinDem senators urged Obama to take action on Russia before election Senate panel questions Lynch on alleged FBI interference The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Calif.).