The confirmation of Jeffrey Kessler coincided with a Senate rule change to expedite consideration of nominations.
The Senate by voice vote on Wednesday confirmed Jeffrey Kessler to be assistant secretary of Commerce for enforcement and compliance 17 months after his original nomination.
The senate originally received President Donald Trump’s nomination of Kessler on Nov. 2, 2017. The nomination had to be resubmitted during the current term of Congress that started in January, and the Senate received Kessler’s renomination on Jan. 16.
The Senate on Wednesday voted to significantly reduce debate time on the Senate floor for most of Trump’s pending administration and judicial nominees, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., earlier this week introduced a resolution to speed up the process for considering their confirmations.
The passage of S. Res. 50 now limits the time between the end of debate and a final confirmation vote on nominees to two hours, down from 30 hours.
Senate Republicans invoked the “nuclear option” for the resolution, meaning that only a simple majority, instead of the usual 60 votes required in the Senate, was needed for passage. The resolution was approved by a 51-48 vote.
Kessler was technically the first nominee to be confirmed under the new debate time rules, though the Senate voted to end debate on the nomination just before the resolution passed on Wednesday.
During his Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing in June, Kessler voiced his support for exploring more Commerce Department self-initiations of antidumping and countervailing duty investigations.
Prior to his confirmation, Kessler was a trade attorney at WilmerHale since January 2011.
Housed within the International Trade Administration, the enforcement and compliance division enforces antidumping and countervailing duty laws, administers the U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones program and works to ensure compliance of U.S. trading partners with free trade agreements. Gary Taverman has been performing the non-exclusive duties of the assistant secretary of commerce for enforcement and compliance. Taverman is the deputy assistant secretary of commerce for antidumping duty and countervailing duty operations.