Penny Pritzker is Confirmed as Commerce Secretary by Full Senate

The Senate voted on Penny Pritzker, who was tapped by President Obama early last month to head the Department of Commerce as Commerce Secretary. He announced his intentions on her birthday, May 2nd.

A close friend of President Obama, and Chicago billionaire, who’s family founded the Hyatt Hotel chain, was easily confirmed on a Senate vote of 97-1 by the full senate. She fills a spot that has been occupied by an acting Secretary Rebecca Blank, since John Bryson resigned nearly a year ago following a seizure that was responsible for two hit-and-run accidents near his home in California. Blank also resigned on May 31st. Cameron Kerry stepped into the position for the month of June.

The only Senator to oppose her filling the commerce seat was Senator Bernard Sanders, Independent Senator from Vermont.

President Obama said after the Senate vote today, “I am pleased the Senate took bipartisan action to confirm Penny Pritzker as our next Commerce Secretary. Penny is a proven leader, a successful entrepreneur, and one of the most accomplished and highly-respected women in business today. She knows what it takes to build companies from the ground up, and she shares my belief in doing everything we can to help businesses and workers succeed and make America a magnet for good jobs. Penny will be a key member of my economic team as we continue to work to grow our economy and strengthen the middle class.”

Her wealth raised concerns of off-shore tax avoidance, she has a worth estimated to be $1.85 billion, but Pritzker has requested that her overseas trusts be moved to the United States. That move quelled concerns.

Senator Murkowski released a statement after the Senate vote. The Senator stated, “When I recently met with Ms. Pritzker, I was pleased to hear a woman willing to engage on a number of key Alaskan concerns – from Arctic development and fisheries issues to the use of electronic monitoring for small boats and the impact of Stellar sea lion restrictions on commercial fishermen.

“Ms. Pritzker gave me added confidence in her capabilities when she stressed that sound science, not political advocacy, must be the backbone of the federal government’s decisions with our oceans, fish and wildlife. I invite her up to Alaska to visit our one-of-a-kind state, people and the nation’s largest fishery personally.”

Alaska’s Senator Mark Begich also released a statement after the vote ot confirm. In his statement, Senator Begich said, “Penny Pritzker has the business chops, a proven track record of job creation in America, and solid experience in the travel and tourism industry – all traits that will serve Alaska well and make her more than qualified to head up the Department of Commerce.

“With a majority of seafood being harvested in Alaska, Secretary Pritzker will have a lot to learn about fisheries management, but I believe she understands the important relationship Alaska has with the Department of Commerce. She understands we need to move forward on Arctic and Cook Inlet oil and gas development and expanding our Arctic research programs.

“Alaska faces critical decisions on national oceans policy, fisheries disasters, and the slow rolling threat of marine debris, all issues that Secretary Pritzker will play a key role in. I look forward to having her visit Alaska in the near future and working closely with her on the issues so critical to our state.”