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The Latest: Commerce nominee Ross moves closer to approval

Fri, February 17, 2017 01:57 EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President's Donald Trump's Cabinet (all times local):

1:55 p.m.

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross has cleared a Senate hurdle on the path to confirmation as commerce secretary.

The vote Friday was 66-31 to move ahead on the nomination. A final vote is expected the week of Feb. 27, after a weeklong congressional recess.

Ross is estimated to be worth nearly $3 billion and has extensive business ties around the globe. Supporters say that makes him ideal to represent American business interests abroad.

The commerce secretary plays several roles in promoting American business interests. The department handles trade issues, working to attract foreign investment to the U.S. The department also oversees agencies that manage fisheries, weather forecasting and the Census Bureau, which will conduct a census in 2020.

Ross has agreed to divest himself from his vast financial empire.

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1:25 p.m.

The Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

Scott Pruitt was approved on Friday by a vote of 52-46.

Pruitt served six years as Oklahoma's attorney general and was closely aligned with oil and gas companies in his home state, whose executives backed his political campaigns. He filed 14 lawsuits as attorney general challenging EPA regulations, including President Barack Obama's plan to limit planet-warming carbon emissions.

Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups that predict he will roll back EPA's enforcement efforts.

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3:00 a.m.

Senate Republicans are poised to use their majority to confirm President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, despite calls from Democrats to delay until requested emails are released.

A vote on Scott Pruitt's nomination is set for Friday afternoon. As part of a public records lawsuit, a state judge in Oklahoma on Thursday ordered Pruitt to release thousands of emails that he exchanged with oil and gas executives by next week. Pruitt, who is Oklahoma's attorney general, has refused to release the emails for more than two years.

Democrats boycotted a committee vote on Pruitt's nomination last month, citing his refusal to hand over the emails, and on Thursday called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to delay Pruitt's confirmation vote until the nominee turned over the requested emails.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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