Wilbur Ross Takes Over as Secretary of Commerce

Businessman Wilbur Ross is officially the new Secretary of Commerce.

Among Commerce's duties is to be the President's chief telecom policy adviser via the National Telecommunications & Information Administration.

Ross, who succeeds Penny Pritzker, was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence, who said: “With Wilbur Ross as our new Secretary of Commerce, the President and I are confident that the Department of Commerce is going to take its right and leading role in fostering the growth that will create good-paying jobs for every American.”

Ross was getting some applause from Capitol Hill and industry. 

“Americans are ready for a new era of economic growth, new business opportunities, and better jobs for our stellar workforce here at home,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. “Fortunately, we have a top-notch advocate for American workers and small business owners in Wilbur Ross, whose investments have had positive local impacts, saving and creating jobs all across my home state of Oregon. As a successful businessman, Wilbur understands the ins and outs of negotiation, a skill critical to striking deals that will make America more prosperous and help expand our manufacturing sector. I am glad to see the Senate’s confirmation of Wilbur and look forward to working together to find ways we can grow jobs and empower American businesses.” 

“As a businessman who spent his career revitalizing struggling businesses, Wilbur Ross is an exceptional fit to revitalize our nation’s economy and create jobs as Secretary of Commerce," said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. "His background is a valuable asset for implementing the Administration’s economic agenda and helping Americans impacted by economic hard times in recent years. I look forward to working with him to boost our nation’s economy and make job creation a reality.”

“Free and fair international trade allows U.S. tech companies to create jobs and deliver tremendous economic growth here at home," said Telecommunications Industry Association senior VP of government affairs Cinnamon Rogers. "Secretary Ross recognized this during his confirmation, when he committed to expanding U.S. exports while vigorously enforcing trade rules. Delivering on both elements will not be easy, but it will be essential for maintaining the strength of our communications industry.

“Consumers and businesses around the globe continue to demand the products and services offered by TIA members, but their governments are increasingly erecting trade barriers. In fact, certain countries place extensive and growing limitations on U.S. industries, while their own businesses operate largely unrestricted in the U.S. commercial market. TIA is committed to working with Sec. Ross and the Commerce Department to identify protectionist policies and develop strategic and constructive responses. We all share the goal of boosting American exports and ensuring greater economic prosperity.

“TIA has long been a vocal advocate for opening up more spectrum to the private sector, and we appreciate Sec. Ross’ support of this goal. It’s vital that we continue the progress that has been made recently, as spectrum is the key ingredient for achieving the transformative potential of the Internet of Things.”

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), chair of the House Communications Subcommittee, has made reauthorizing NTIA, and in the process pushing for freeing up more government spectrum for private use, a focus of the subcommittee, which she took over in January from Walden.

Software & Information Industry Association VP Mark MacCarthy urged Ross to identify outmoded regs in the digital space to jettison. "Advancing the digital economy and continuing the global leadership of America’s tech companies will require the Secretary’s attention on some key issues, including cross-border data flows, the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield and regulatory reform. As he conducts an expedited review of U.S. regulations affecting manufacturing, we believe Sec. Ross can play an important role in identifying outdated regulations that stifle innovation and growth in the digital marketplace."

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.