© Greg Nash
The Senate is moving forward with Wilbur Ross's nomination to lead the Commerce Department.
The chamber on Friday voted 66-31 in favor of cloture on Ross, setting up a confirmation vote later this month. Sixteen Democrats joined with all Republicans present in backing Ross, who needed a simple 51-vote majority to overcome Friday's procedural hurdle.
Senators aren't expected to be able to finish his nomination before leaving town for the week-long President's Day recess.
McConnell tried to get a deal for a final vote on his nomination for Friday, but Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Regulation: Lawmakers look to delay labor board ruling Senate Dems offer bill to restore internet privacy rules Dem senator on Gorsuch: 'The dark deed is done’ MORE (D-Ore.) objected.
With Democrats able to drag out an extra 30 hours of debate, a final vote is expected as early as the evening Feb. 27.
Democrats raised fresh concerns about Ross’s nomination this week, questioning whether he has ties to Russia.
In a letter obtained by McClatchy, Dems questioned Ross's relationship with Viktor Vekselberg, a shareholder at a bank where Ross still sits on the board.
Vekselberg is friends with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and was formally one of the directors of the Russian state-controlled oil giant Rosneft.
The Democrats who voted in favor of Ross were Sens. Michael BennetMichael BennetDems knock Trump on Earth Day Dem pushed plan for both sides to admit to abusing Senate rules: report Senators aim to extend federal conservation fund MORE (Colo.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampBusiness groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Sanders supporter to run against red-state Democrat GOP lays out regulatory reform wish list MORE (N.D.), Tim KaineTim KaineDemocrats thought they could produce a political earthquake in Kansas Poll: Dems hold double-digit leads in Virginia governor race Sen. King: Trump needs Congress to sign off on new military action MORE (Va.), Bill NelsonBill NelsonBipartisan group demands answers on United incident Is Congress encroaching on Americans' Internet privacy? Trump's Labor pick endorsed by Hispanic lawyers MORE (Fla.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenRussian interference looms over European elections Restore funding to United Nations Population Fund Senators urge Tillerson to meet with Russian opposition activists MORE (N.H.), Jon TesterJon TesterDems hunt for a win in Montana special election Tester raises M for reelection The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Montana), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharWyden pushing to mandate 'basic cybersecurity' for Senate Senators press the FCC on rural broadband affordability Senators should stop trying to turn the Supreme Court into reality TV MORE (Minn.), Chris CoonsChris CoonsSenate approves Trump's Agriculture chief How Gorsuch's confirmation shapes the next Supreme Court battle Coons: ‘Exactly the wrong time’ for State Dept cuts MORE (Del.), Tom CarperTom CarperDems probe claims of religious bias in DHS 'trusted traveler' program Senate Dems want Trump to release ethics waivers, visitor logs Medicare’s coverage decisions need more input from physicians MORE (Del.), Mark WarnerMark WarnerSenate Intel Dem has ‘serious concerns’ on Russia probe GOP senator hits back at criticism of Russia probe So what if banks push fancy cards? Give consumers the steak they want MORE (Va.), Angus KingAngus KingRepublican Sen. Collins considering run for Maine governor in 2018 Conway: Dems should listen to their constituents on tax reform Sen. King: Trump needs Congress to sign off on new military action MORE (I-Maine) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinThis week: Congress returns to government shutdown fight Hotel industry details plans to fight Airbnb Congress needs a do-over on fraud-laden 'Immigrant Investor' program MORE (Calif.).