Bloomberg News

Bryson Confirmed by U.S. Senate as Obama Commerce Secretary

October 20, 2011

(Updates with comment from Feinstein in third paragraph.)

Oct. 20 (Bloomberg) -- John Bryson, the former chief executive officer of Edison International, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be Commerce secretary more than four months after President Barack Obama nominated him for the post.

Bryson, 68, replaces Gary Locke, who was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to China in August. Bryson will take over a department that plays a leading role in Obama’s drive to double annual U.S. exports to $3.14 trillion by the end of 2014 from $1.57 trillion in 2009. The vote today was 74-26.

“I expect he will be a powerful voice inside the administration and a partner with the business community to grow our economy and open international markets for American manufacturers,” Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, said today on the chamber floor.

Republicans delayed Bryson’s nomination until Obama sent lawmakers legislation for free-trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea. Bills for those accords cleared Congress last week and Obama plans to sign them tomorrow.

Obama said in a statement after the vote that Bryson “will be a key member of my economic team, working with the business community to promote job creation, foster growth and help open up new markets around the world for American-made goods.”

Bryson led Edison International, the owner of California’s largest utility, until 2008. His nomination was supported by the Business Roundtable, which represents CEOs of companies such as Boeing Co., and opposed by Republicans including Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, who criticized his support in the past for a measure to cap carbon emissions.

“This nominee is the wrong person at the worst time,” Barrasso said today on the Senate floor.

--Editors: Steve Geimann, Larry Liebert

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Martin in Washington at emartin21@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at lliebert@bloomberg.net


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