Thune Statement on Wilbur Ross's Nomination

February 27, 2017

Mr./Madame President:
I rise to voice my strong support for the nomination of Wilbur Ross to be the next Secretary of Commerce.
We held a hearing on his nomination on January 18, 2017.  Mr. Ross has also completed all of the required paperwork and responded to all of the Committee’s questions for the record.
Five weeks ago, on January 24th, the Commerce Committee acted by voice vote to favorably report his nomination to the floor.
We invoked cloture on Mr. Ross’s nomination by a 66 to 31 margin on February 17th, with 15 Democratic Senators voting to invoke cloture.
I am glad that the Senate will finally confirm his nomination today, after a long and unnecessary delay.
When he’s confirmed, Mr. Ross will bring decades of business, entrepreneurial, and civic experience to this important position.
Mr. Ross is perhaps best known for his expertise in revitalizing distressed businesses, such as those in the U.S. steel industry.
At a time when most investors had abandoned the industry, he organized the International Steel Group in 2002 and, through acquisitions, made it the largest integrated steel company in North America.  Later, it merged with Mittal Steel to form the largest steel company in the world.  It is for this reason that all of the major steel industry labor unions also support his confirmation.  I ask unanimous consent that a letter of support for the confirmation of Wilbur Ross from the United Steelworkers, dated January 9, 2017, be included in the record at the conclusion of my remarks.
Mr. Ross’s nomination is also supported by a bipartisan group of former Secretaries of Commerce, including Secretary William M. Daley, who served as Commerce Secretary under President Clinton, and later as chief of staff to President Barack Obama.    
Mr. Ross’s strong record of achievement in business led Bloomberg Business Week to name him one of the 50 Most Influential People in Global Finance in 2011.  It is also why he is the only person elected to both the Turnaround Management Hall of Fame and the Private Equity Hall of Fame.
Mr. Ross’s nomination comes at an important time in our nation’s economic recovery.  And I believe his extensive management experience in the private sector, and his understanding of the challenges faced by workers and businesses alike, will equip him well for the job of leading the Department of Commerce.
This large department, which has 12 different bureaus and nearly 47,000 employees located in all 50 states and around the world, oversees a diverse array of issues from trade to fishery management, and from weather forecasting to the Census Bureau.  
Mr. Ross’s experience turning around businesses should help him anticipate and mitigate the risks of major programs like FirstNet, the independent authority charged with creating a nationwide broadband network for first responders, and the acquisition of critical weather satellites by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
I would also like to underscore that collaboration between the public and private sectors is one of the hallmarks of the department’s work, as exemplified by the ongoing development of cybersecurity best practices and standards, which the Commerce Committee has strongly endorsed.  I look forward to Mr. Ross continuing this collaboration and strengthening it where necessary.
I believe Mr. Ross’s business know-how and intelligence make him an excellent candidate to serve as the next Secretary of Commerce, and I strongly support his nomination.  I urge my colleagues to support his nomination as well.