© 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 MerkleySenate advances Trump's Commerce pick Senate confirms Pruitt to lead EPA Democrats want Pruitt vote delayed over emails 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 BennetSenate advances Trump's Commerce pick Senate Dems move to nix Trump's deportation order Senators to Trump: We support additional Iran sanctions MORE (Colo.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampPruitt confirmation sets stage for Trump EPA assault Pruitt sworn in as EPA chief EPA breaks Twitter silence to congratulate new head MORE (N.D.), Tim KaineTim KaineMattis on rise in Trump administration Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick Steve Mnuchin, foreclosure king, now runs your US Treasury MORE (Va.), Bill NelsonBill NelsonSenate advances Trump's Commerce pick CMS nominee breezes through confirmation hearing Net neutrality fix faces hard sell MORE (Fla.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenMattis on rise in Trump administration Scott Brown being considered for ambassador to New Zealand: report Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick MORE (N.H.), Jon TesterJon TesterGOP loses top Senate contenders Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick Schumer tries to keep the peace as Sanders speaks out MORE (Montana), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDrug importation from other countries will save dollars and lives Top antitrust senators call for Sessions to scrutinize AT&T-Time Warner merger Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick MORE (Minn.), Chris CoonsChris CoonsSenate advances Trump's Commerce pick Senate Dems move to nix Trump's deportation order Senate Dem: Trump will hurt Gorsuch's confirmation by undermining judiciary MORE (Del.), Tom CarperTom CarperSenate advances Trump's Commerce pick Warren: Trump's EPA pick the 'attorney general for Exxon' Overnight Energy: EPA pick Pruitt set for Friday vote | Dems plan all-night protest | Trump nixes Obama coal mining rule MORE (Del.), Mark WarnerMark WarnerReport: Senate Intel Committee asks agencies to keep records related to Russian probe Comey meets Intel senators amid uproar over Trump-Russia ties Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick MORE (Va.), Angus KingAngus KingSenate advances Trump's Commerce pick Angus King opposing Mnuchin, Price nominations Senate confirms Tillerson as secretary of State MORE (I-Maine) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinDem: Trump's China trademark looks like a quid pro quo Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick Flynn told FBI he didn't talk sanctions with Russian envoy: report MORE (Calif.).