The U.S. Senate Tuesday night confirmed former Washington State Governor Gary Locke as Secretary of Commerce after President Barack Obama's first two selections withdrew before they even came up for a vote--Democratic New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson because of a state investigation and Republican New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg because of policy differences, media reports say.
Locke, 59, was America's first Chinese-American governor, serving two terms from 1997 to 2005. The Commerce Committee voted last week to approve the nomination of Locke, who has promised to focus on job creation and to closely oversee the 2010 census.
As Commerce Secretary, Locke will be tasked with broad responsibilities, including the census, many aspects of international trade, oceans policy and weather forecasts.
The Commerce Department will also oversee the NTIA's broadband stimulus grant program ($4.6 billion) and the DTV digital-to-analog converter box coupon program, which has $650 million in funding to make sure analog-only viewers are not disenfranchised by the switch to digital.
I am very pleased to see Gary Locke confirmed by the Senate to be our nation's 36th Secretary of Commerce, said Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller in a statement Tuesday.
The American people deserve to know that the person working every day to determine the best way to reboot this economy understands - and simply put, Gary Locke gets it.
Gregg withdrew his nomination citing differences with the administration over moving some of the census responsibilities out of Commerce and over the stimulus package while Richardson withdrew due to an investigation of a private company's dealings with the state government, specifically how political donors won a state contract.
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