Senate committee OKs Raimondo nomination for commerce secretary

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WASHINGTON (WPRI) — The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation voted Wednesday morning to approve President Joe Biden’s nomination of Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo for commerce secretary.

The committee voted 21-3 in favor of Raimondo, sending the nomination to the floor for a confirmation vote at a later date. It remains unclear when that will happen — if the vote is not held this week, it could be delayed further into February by the impeachment trial as well as the Senate’s upcoming recess.

The “no” votes against Raimondo’s nomination in the committee on Wednesday were cast by Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and Rick Scott of Florida.

Many of the committee members had proxies there to vote on their behalf.

When the committee interviewed Raimondo last week, Cruz questioned Raimondo’s record and asked how she’d get jobs for thousands impacted by Biden’s executive orders on the Keystone Pipeline.

“If you were confirmed to secretary of commerce, what would you say to those 11,000 workers whose jobs were destroyed with a stroke of a pen?” Cruz asked.

“I would say we’re going to get you to work,” Raimondo replied. “I would say that climate change is a threat to all of us.”

Another Texas lawmaker, Congressman Michael McCaul, is urging the Senate to place a hold on Raimondo’s nomination, saying he and about a dozen other GOP lawmakers are concerned she didn’t commit to restricting Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications giant which they deem a security threat to Americans.

Raimondo said she would review policy on it.

Wednesday’s vote comes hours before Raimondo is set to deliver what’s likely to be her final State of the State address. The governor’s office said she plans to reflect on her six years in office, including investments in job training, education, health care, and how she helped the economy.

You can watch Raimondo’s speech live at 7 p.m. on WPRI 12, or join us for our special digital broadcast on WPRI.com or the 12 News app.

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