Commerce Nominee Ross Gets Confirmation Hearing Date

The Senate Commerce Committee has set a Jan. 12 date for the confirmation hearing for Wilbur Ross. The hearing will be at 10 a.m.

President-elect Donald Trump picked the billionaire businessman to head the Department of Commerce—the agency that includes the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, which will be the Trump Administration's principal telecom adviser.

Ross has told the committee that the top challenges facing Commerce are "increasing the Department's responsiveness to the needs of the Committee and the user universe; expanding U.S. exports and reducing the U.S. trade deficit; and integrating technology into the Department to improve efficiency as well as the timelines, depth and breadth of data."

That is according to his committee questionnaire, released by the committee.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) was enthusiastic about the choice of Ross when it was announced in November, saying: "Wilbur Ross will bring exceptional real-world business experience to the Department of Commerce as part of an administration that emphasizes job creation and the economy. I welcome the President-elect’s choice and expect the Senate Commerce Committee will expeditiously consider this nomination once the new Congress begins in January."

Ross is the former head of Rothschild and currently is chairman and chief strategist of WL Ross & Co., which he founded and was bought by Invesco in 2006. He is also former CEO of News Communications, which publishes The Hill newspaper.

He has made his name and fortune in private equity investments, including restructuring bankrupt companies. According to Forbes, that included Donald Trump's casino troubles. Ross is at number 232 on Forbes 400 richest list with 2.9 billion back in September but "only" $2.5 billion as of now. (Trump is at #157 with an estimated $3.7 billion).

The Trump transition team announcement of the pick said his had been a legacy of "saving jobs and restructuring failing companies," as well as growing telecom businesses among many others including coal and steel industries—in the rust-belt states that helped Trump win the presidency.

On the questionnaire, Ross conceded he had been charged with "driving while ability impaired by alcohol (DWAI)" in Southampton, N.Y., in 1991 and had paid a $400 fine and had his license suspended for 90 days.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.