Senate panel advances Biden's Commerce secretary pick in 21-3 vote

Senate panel advances Biden's Commerce secretary pick in 21-3 vote
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The Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday advanced President Biden’s nominee to lead the Commerce Department, Gina RaimondoGina RaimondoSunday shows - Jan. 6 investigation dominates Commerce secretary: We're 'very close' to passing bipartisan infrastructure bill Sunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe MORE, in a broadly bipartisan 21-3 vote. 

Raimondo, the current Democratic governor of Rhode Island, faced opposition from some Republicans over her comments about Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei, but she was ultimately advanced to a Senate-wide vote with just three Republicans — Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP, Democrats battle over masks in House, Senate Human rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action Only two people cited by TSA for mask violations have agreed to pay fine MORE (Texas), Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnBiden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on Biden's misinformation crackdown spotlights partisan divide on content reform White House looks to cool battle with Facebook MORE (Tenn.) and Rick Scott (Fla.) — voting "no."

Almost two dozen House Republicans on Tuesday urged their Senate colleagues to place a hold on Raimondo, arguing she had not clarified her stance on Huawei during a confirmation hearing. 

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Raimondo said she would “review the policy” and consult with Congress and allies but was unclear at the hearing about whether she would keep the Trump administration’s decision to put Huawei on the Commerce Department’s “entity list.”

The list imposes strict licensing requirements on the country for exporting or transferring specific items. 

Ahead of Wednesday’s vote, the top Republican on the committee, Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerHere's evidence the Senate confirmation process is broken Commerce office used racial profiling operating as 'rogue' police force: Senate report Rand Paul introducing measure to repeal public transportation mask mandates MORE (Miss.), again noted concerns over Raimondo’s comments on Huawei, but he and most of his GOP colleagues still pushed her nomination forward. 

“I do remain concerned about the governor’s reluctance to state unequivocally that she intends to keep Huawei on the department’s entity list. Keeping Huawei on this list is important for the security for our networks, and I urge the governor and the administration to make its position clear,” Wicker said. 

The Biden White House has also not definitely stated whether it will keep Huawei on the entity list.

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White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiWhy in the world are White House reporters being told to mask up again? Only two people cited by TSA for mask violations have agreed to pay fine Democrats ramp up pressure for infrastructure deal amid time crunch MORE has said that “telecommunications equipment made by untrusted vendors, including Huawei, is a threat to the security of the U.S. and our allies,” but she has not confirmed if the company will remain on the list when asked. 

Concern over Huawei is just one controversial issue Raimondo is poised to face if confirmed as Commerce secretary. 

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGrassley pressured to run as Democrats set sights on Iowa Sunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe Democrats question GOP shift on vaccines MORE (R-Wis.), a fierce proponent of reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, asked Raimondo about reforming the landmark internet law during her confirmation hearing before the committee. The law provides tech companies a legal liability shield for third-party content posted on their platforms. 

Raimondo said the law needs "some reform" but stopped short of calling for it to be repealed as former President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York state Senate candidate charged in riot Trump called acting attorney general almost daily to push election voter fraud claim: report GOP senator clashes with radio caller who wants identity of cop who shot Babbitt MORE sought to do before leaving office.