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
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
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