The Senate confirmed Wilbur L. Ross, the billionaire investor, as commerce secretary on Monday, installing a key leader for the Trump administration's plans to overhaul trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement.

By a vote of 72 to 27, the Senate confirmed Mr. Ross, who has already been advising President Trump on economic policy and helping him to craft ways to rewrite the tax code. A renegotiation of Nafta is expected to be Mr. Ross's top priority when he takes over the job. During his confirmation hearing in January, he warned that "all aspects" of the agreement between the United States and its northern and southern neighbors are on the table.

With the confirmation of Mr. Ross, the most important members of Mr. Trump's economic team are in place just in time for looming fights over the budget, health care and tax legislation.


A former Democrat, Mr. Ross, 79, divested a significant portion of his holdings to avoid conflicts of interest before taking the helm of the Commerce Department. He also tried to temper some of Mr. Trump's views on trade, attempting to ease concerns that the United States is going to be engaging in trade wars.

"I am pro-trade, but I am pro-sensible trade," Mr. Ross declared at his confirmation hearing.


As a private equity investor, Mr. Ross amassed a fortune by taking advantage of trade deals with countries such as China and Mexico. He sent jobs to Mexico when he was the head of a car parts company, benefiting from some of the Nafta provisions that he will most likely be looking to unwind. And he is maintaining a minority stake in a company backed by the Chinese government.

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