Froman easily confirmed by Senate to take helm of trade office

"He’s trusted and well-respected by our partners around the world, and for the last several years, he’s been a driving force behind our international economic agenda. In his new position, Mike will stay focused on our primary economic goals — promoting growth, creating jobs and strengthening the middle class."

The United States also is involved in continuing talks on an Asia-Pacific deal, a source of some consternation ahead of the vote. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) opposed the nomination because of Froman's refusal to publicly release the negotiated text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a deal being worked up by 12 nations, which could be completed later this year. 

Ahead of the vote, Warren said there was a "point of principle at stake" and that the United States "should not be moving forward on trade agreements without making more information public."

She said that the trade office needs a new direction that "prioritizes transparency and public debate."

ADVERTISEMENT
Warren was joined in her opposition by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.). 

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who votedf or Froman, said Warren has legitimate concerns, which are similar to those he has raised. 

"I continue to share the concerns that Sen. Warren and others express about the lack of adequate transparency in U.S. trade negotiations,"" he said. "Mr. Froman has committed to work with me to address these concerns and I look forward to working with him, Senator Warren and others to accomplish this important objective."

The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which unanimously approved his nomination to the Cabinet post last week, urged strong support for Froman's nomination. 

"It's rare that I speak so highly of somebody," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.). 

"He's very smart, he's very tough and he's the right person for the job," he said. 

Senators took Baucus up on his call for a big vote "so the world knows he has our strong support."

Baucus said he was unaware of Warren's concerns until she mentioned them on the floor on Wednesday. 

Warren sent a letter last week asking Froman to provide more details to the public and to lawmakers about the TPP negotiations. 

But she said he gave her an across-the-board 'no' for her requests. 

Earlier in the day, she vowed to vote 'no' but said she would not block the nomination. 

Finance panel ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said he has "seen a lot of people come and go and he has every confidence this man will be an excellent leader."

"This man is competent, he's highly qualified, he doesn't share my philosophy particularly, but I think he does with regard to this position," he said. 

He noted that Froman backs trade promotion authority, which Hatch and Baucus, and plenty of other lawmakers, have been pressing the White House to request for months. 

Froman made it clear at his confirmation hearing earlier this month that the president would pursue the issue and would soon begin in-depth discussions with Congress. 

This story was updated at 6:35 p.m. and 7:25 p.m.