02.27.17

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Announces She Will Oppose the Confirmation of Wilbur Ross for Commerce Secretary

Vows to find common ground fighting unfair trade deals, taking on China cheating, and supporting Buy America reforms

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today released the following statement announcing she will not support Wilbur Ross’ confirmation for Secretary of Commerce.

“President Trump has made promises to change our economic and trade policies to help workers struggling to get ahead. I share this goal, so I will hold him accountable and work with his Administration to keep these promises to the hardworking people of Wisconsin.

“I met with Wilbur Ross, President Trump’s pick to lead the Commerce Department, and I also had an opportunity to question him at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. I voted for Mr. Ross in committee and I had planned on voting for him on the Senate floor. However, a number of unanswered questions have been revealed about Mr. Ross’ ownership stake in the Bank of Cyprus, where he was a top shareholder and has served as vice chairman of the board of directors. The fact that this bank has deep Russian ties and investors with strong connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin, gives me great pause on this nomination. I also have a number of questions that have not been answered about Mr. Ross’ partnership with the Chinese Investment Corporation and his refusal to divest a $1 billion investment. This investment raises serious concerns that Mr. Ross may have a conflict of interest as he would be negotiating trade policy with China.

“While I will vote against his confirmation as Secretary of Commerce because of these concerns and unanswered questions, I do believe that there are a number of areas where we can find common ground and work together.

“Mr. Ross and I agree that NAFTA and other unfair trade deals have failed to include enforceable labor and environmental standards for our trading partners—tilting the playing field against American workers and businesses. I was pleased that this nominee shares my belief that we need a new approach to trade that is built on fairness and an even playing field for American workers to compete and win.

“It is my hope that we can work together on reforms to create a new trade agenda that cracks down on cheating from countries like China, strengthens Wisconsin’s manufacturing economy, and creates jobs and raises incomes for the Wisconsin’s working class. I also have confidence that Mr. Ross understands any negotiation of a new trade agreement with Canada should prioritize securing and expanding export markets for Wisconsin dairy farmers.

“I have fought hard to advance ‘Buy America’ legislation because I strongly believe American workers should build our infrastructure with American products, and taxpayers' money should not be spent on Chinese iron and steel. Unfortunately, Congressional Republicans have not shared this commitment so I was pleased that Mr. Ross reaffirmed the Trump Administration’s commitment to strong Buy America standards.

“In 2012 I was elected by the people of Wisconsin to take on powerful interests in Washington and to fight for Wisconsin's working class. That is what I have done and that is what I will continue to do. I have worked to stand up to powerful interests in Washington that support the unfair and flawed trade and economic policies that put special interests ahead of Wisconsin workers.  We need to crack down on countries like China when they cheat American workers, we need policies that keep jobs here at home instead of encouraging outsourcing, and we need a strong Buy America plan that requires tax dollars for public infrastructure projects to go to American businesses and workers instead of foreign companies. I look forward to working with Wilbur Ross, as our new Secretary of Commerce, on these issues that are so important to building a strong Made in Wisconsin economy.”