Billionaire Investor Ross Heads Toward Confirmation As Commerce Secretary

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote Monday evening to confirm billionaire Wilbur Ross as Trump's commerce secretary.

In a hard opening month for President Trump, cabinet nominees including treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and education secretary Betsy De Vos faced rigorous scrutiny from Congress before being narrowly confirmed.

Breaking with Republican orthodoxy, Ross said the Trump administration will work quickly to re-do the North American Free Trade Agreement, a massive trade pact with Canada and Mexico that has boosted trade but still stings laid-off workers across the Midwest. He will also be a key voice on Trump's efforts to slash taxes and ramp up infrastructure spending.

Commerce Secretary-designate Wilbur Ross, center, listens to President Donald Trump during a meeting with House and Senate legislators in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. The commerce secretary nominee said countries that resort to "malicious" trading tactics should be "severely" punished.

Ross made much of his estimated $2.5 billion fortune turning around bankrupt companies that produced steel, textiles, and mined coal. Wicker announced his support for Ross in December, after they met to discuss job creation and economic growth.

She said: "Mr Ross has extensive ties to Russian Federation".

"If you add and subtract, we were a very large net creator of jobs" in the U.S., Ross said.

"Mr. Ross will bring decades of business, entrepreneurial and civic experience to this important position", said Democrat senator John Thune, who is chairman of the Commerce Committee.

Mr Ross served under President Clinton on the board of the US-Russian Investment Fund, and was later an adviser on privatisation to then New York Mayor, Rudy Giulliani. The billionaire's ethics agreement was complicated by his lengthy investing career and wide array of complex assets. Ross has indicated he will step down from the Bank of Cyprus after he takes office.

  • Zachary Reyes