The Latest: Interior nominee Zinke clears Senate hurdle

AP News
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Posted: Feb 27, 2017 8:01 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Senate (all times local):

8:00 p.m.

The Senate has cleared the way for a vote on President Donald Trump's nominee to head the Interior Department.

Senators voted 67-31 Monday evening to limit debate on the nomination of Congressman Ryan Zinke. A final vote on confirmation could occur on Tuesday or Wednesday.

At his confirmation hearing, the Montana Republican rejected Trump's claim that climate change is a hoax, saying it is indisputable that environmental changes are affecting the world's temperature and human activity is a major reason.

The Interior Department and other U.S. agencies control almost a third of the land in the West and even more of the underground "mineral estate" that holds vast amounts of coal, oil and natural gas.

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7:30 p.m.

The Senate has confirmed billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as commerce secretary as President Donald Trump adds to his economic team.

Breaking with Republican orthodoxy, Ross said the Trump administration will work quickly to re-do the North American Free Trade Agreement. That's the massive trade pact with Canada and Mexico that has boosted trade but still stings laid-off workers across the Midwest.

Senators from both political parties were deferential to Ross at his nearly four-hour confirmation hearing, which was much more subdued than the confirmation hearings of other Trump nominees.

Worth an estimated $2.9 billion, Ross has extensive business ties around the globe. In 2000, he founded WL Ross & Co., a private equity firm. As part of his ethics agreement, Ross will divest from the firm.