Policy

Senate Approves Pritzker to Head Commerce

She Has Pledged to Help Free up More Government Spectrum, Work on Cybersecurity Framework 6/25/2013 1:07 PM Eastern
 
The Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to confirm Penny Pritzker as the Secretary of Commerce. Pritzker, a billionaire heir to the Hyatt hotels fortune, is also an entrepreneur who has built five companies.

"She is, in my view, a force of nature," said Commerce Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller (D- W. Va.). "The unanimous bipartisan support she received in the Committee, and the decisive 97-1 bipartisan vote today by the full Senate, reflects our confidence that she will be a highly successful driver for growth and change."

Rockefeller's committee voted unanimously for her confirmation.

As Secretary of Commerce, she will be ultimately responsible for the government effort -- through Commerce's National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) -- for finding government spectrum to give up for auction per the president's plan to free up 500 MHz for wireless broadband within 10 years.

In her confirmation hearing, Pritzker promised to "look harder" for government spectrum to share or turn over to private industry and to work on creating a cybersecurity framework that includes industry at the table.

Pritzker also promised to work with NTIA to make sure it had the best data on how much it would cost to repurpose or share government spectrum.

She also pledged to Rockefeller that she would work with both industry and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and industry on coming up with a cybersecurity framework.

Pritzker is succeeding acting secretary Rebecca Blank. Commerce Secretary John Bryson resigned almost a year ago. She was finance chair of the president's 2008 campaign.

She is the fifth person nominated for Commerce secretary by the president during his tenure in office. Bill Richardson and Judd Gregg were the first two picks, but both wound up withdrawing from consideration, followed by Gary Locke, who got the job and served until being named ambassador to China in 2011. Bryson replaced him, but resigned for health reasons.

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