Wilbur Ross, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to serve as Commerce secretary, addressed trade at length in his confirmation hearing Wednesday. But the Commerce Department is responsible for a wide range of issues beyond trade, such as managing the Census Bureau and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Ross addressed these and other agency responsibilities at his hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee. Here are a few highlights:
- In a potential hiccup to his confirmation, Ross told senators that he dismissed an undocumented domestic worker within the last month after the worker could not produce appropriate documentation of legal residency. Ross confirmed that the employee had deceived him by providing citizenship documents in 2009 and then could not reproduce them when Ross rechecked the employment status after his nomination. The incident was not a significant line of attack from Democratic senators at the hearing.
- Low interest rates could be a boon to investments in infrastructure, Ross said. He said there will be “some necessity” for public investment in infrastructure, but that it’s up to Congress and the White House to decide on the nature of financing and its quantity.
- Ross hinted that he expects Trump to fire him as Commerce secretary if the economy doesn’t hit higher growth rates that Trump promised during the campaign. If gross domestic product continues to grow at Obama administration levels of 1.5 to 2 percent a year, Ross said, “You won’t be seeing me much longer because the president-elect won’t be putting up with that.”
- In response to whether he believes the public release of NOAA data related to sea-level changes is appropriate, Ross said that “the communication of factual information and data is very, very important.”