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Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick

The Hill logo The Hill 2/17/2017 Jordain Carney
Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick © Provided by The Hill Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick

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 Merkley (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 Bennet (Colo.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Jon Tester (Montana), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Chris Coons (Del.), Tom Carper (Del.), Mark Warner (Va.), Angus King (I-Maine) and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.).

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