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Senate confirms Pritzker as Commerce head

With a nearly unanimous vote, the Senate has confirmed Penny Pritzker, a prolific Democratic fundraiser and the heiress to the Hyatt Hotel empire, to be the next Secretary of Commerce.

The vote was 97-1, a bipartisan stamp of approval that came after a relatively drama-free confirmation process for Pritzker, a business executive whose private sector credentials were hailed by senators from both parties.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, was the only 'nay' vote on the nomination. Sanders had raised objections to the Hyatt hotel chain's relationship with labor unions. 

Pritzker’s early opponents had questioned millions of dollars she received from an offshore family trust, as well as her tenure leading Chicago’s Superior Bank, which failed in 2001. But, without a significant effort mounted against the Chicago billionaire, her nomination was unanimously approved earlier this month by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

“I cannot picture a more perfect person to run the Department of Commerce than Penny Pritzker,” Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic chairman of that panel, said on the Senate floor Tuesday before the vote.

In a statement, President Barack Obama praised Pritzker as "a proven leader, a successful entrepreneur, and one of the most accomplished and highly-respected women in business today."

"She knows what it takes to build companies from the ground up, and she shares my belief in doing everything we can to help businesses and workers succeed and make America a magnet for good jobs," he said.