Sen. Thune to preside over confirmation hearings in Commerce Committee

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) With Donald Trump's inauguration less than two weeks away, the Senate is getting to the business of confirming the men and women he's tapped to lead his cabinet.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) is playing a major role in the proceedings, leading the process to confirm the president-elect nominees in the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

“We want to make sure that the team gets stood up as quickly as possible," Sen. Thune said.

Sen. Thune will be leading the confirmation process in the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, where he serves as chairman.

"My staff and I have been working at this now for some time. It's a long sort of tedious process, but an important one," Sen. Thune said.

Beside cabinet secretaries, the committee will be considering many other nominees.

“I think we have about 100 under our committee's jurisdiction that we have to go through the confirmation process with," Thune explained.

It’s a double header this week for Thune’s committee, starting off with a confirmation hearing on Wednesday for Elaine Chao, nominated to serve as transportation secretary. Then, on Thursday, a hearing for Trump’s pick for commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross.

"You're going to see a real difference between the two nominees that the Commerce Committee is going to be considering," said Niels Lesniewski with Roll Call.

Lesniewski says that's because Chao is well known. She previously served as the Secretary of Labor in the Bush administration and she's married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"The Chao nomination is the least likely of any of them I would say to be delayed," Lesniewski explained.

However, Ross, a billionaire investor is lesser known and could be more of a challenge to confirm.

"Wilbur Ross might be someone who could get sort of caught up in a larger Democratic strategy of trying to eat floor time in order to stall what else the Senate Republican majority wants to do," he said.

Sen. Thune says he isn't expecting any major problems to arise during the process.

“In the end, I think they will be reported favorably out of the committee and ultimately passed on the floor and get into their positions," Sen. Thune said.

More than a half-dozen confirmation hearings are schedule in the Senate this week alone.

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