Top Democrats speak out about Trump Treasury nominee
The Senate Finance Committee planned to meet Monday evening to vote on the confirmation of Steve Mnuchin, the Trump administration’s choice to lead the Department of the Treasury, but that vote will no longer happen, as Senate Democrats moved to delay the vote, while other party leaders declared their opposition to Mnuchin as Treasury secretary.
According to a report from The Hill, Democrats used a parliamentary procedure to delay the vote on Mnuchin from Monday evening to Tuesday morning.
Here are the details from The Hill:
Democrats blocked a routine procedural step that would have allowed the Senate Finance Committee to vote on whether to recommend Steven Mnuchin be confirmed as Treasury secretary by the full Senate. The committee will vote on Mnuchin’s nomination on Tuesday morning, when it will also consider Rep. Tom Price’s (R-Ga.) nomination to be health secretary.
“While not surprising, this is an unfortunate and needless delay that simply means the Committee will reconvene tomorrow morning to vote on the nominee for U.S. Treasury secretary,” said Julia Lawless, spokeswoman for Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
Whether the delay has any impact on Mnuchin’s ability to pass out of the commitee is an entirely different question, but in addition to moving to delay the vote on Mnuchin, several top Democrats said Monday that they do not plan to support Mnuchin’s nomination, either in the Senate Finance Committee or in the full Senate.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, who asked Mnuchin about housing finance reform during Mnuchin’s confirmation hearing, said Monday that he will not vote for Mnuchin.
In a statement issued Monday, Warner, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, said that he still has several unresolved issues with Mnuchin, adding that neither Mnuchin’s testimony, nor a face-to-face meeting between Warner and Mnuchin, was enough to convince Warner.
“Based on Mr. Mnuchin’s record, my meeting with him, his answers during the Senate Finance hearing and follow-on questioning, I am unable to support his nomination to serve as Treasury Secretary,” Warner said Monday.
“Throughout the confirmation process, Mr. Mnuchin has failed to adequately demonstrate that he will be a forceful advocate for innovative policies that will make the U.S. economy work better for the majority of Americans. I also am not convinced that he is committed to robust enforcement of Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms, which are intended to protect taxpayers from the sort of irresponsible behavior that triggered the 2008 financial crisis,” Warner continued.
“Further, I am concerned by Mr. Mnuchin’s lack of understanding of the critical role the Treasury Department plays in both crafting and implementing economic sanctions, and his focus on using an unproven scoring method to pay for tax cuts,” Warner concluded. “Given these concerns, I have determined that Mr. Mnuchin is not the right candidate to serve as Secretary of the Treasury, and I will vote against his nomination.”
Warner wasn’t the only Democrat who spoke out against Mnuchin.
Another member of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, said that he will not vote for Mnuchin either.
“We need someone at the helm of the Treasury Department who will be committed to continuing our economic recovery and helping all Americans, not just those at the top, succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy,” Carper said in a statement.
“Mr. Mnunchin’s business career, particularly those actions taken during the foreclosure crisis, have rightfully raised serious concerns about his ability to be that person,” Carper continued. “Ultimately, I believe that managing the world’s largest economy is too important a responsibility to hand over to someone who is so lacking in both the depth of policy knowledge and economic decision-making experience that we should expect for our highest-ranking official at the Treasury Department.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who also sits on the Senate Finance Committee, said that he will not support Mnuchin.
On Sunday, Brown tweeted the following: “Mnuchin cannot be trusted to make decisions abt policies as personal to Ohioans as their taxes & retirement.”
The tweet is accompanied by a link to a story in The Columbus Dispatch, which claims that Mnuchin lied to the members of the Senate Finance Committee during his testimony when questioned about the foreclosure practices of OneWest Bank, the bank that Mnuchin formerly chaired.
Here’s an excerpt of the Columbus Dispatch article:
President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. treasury secretary was untruthful with the Senate during the confirmation process, documents uncovered by The Dispatch show.
Steve Mnuchin, former chairman and chief executive officer of OneWest Bank, known for its aggressive foreclosure practices, flatly denied in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee that OneWest used “robo-signing” on mortgage documents.
“OneWest Bank did not ‘robo-sign’ documents,” Mnuchin wrote in response to questions from individual senators, “and as the only bank to successfully complete the Independent Foreclosure Review required by federal banking regulators to investigate allegations of ‘robo-signing,’ I am proud of our institution’s extremely low error rate.”
But a Dispatch analysis of nearly four dozen foreclosure cases filed by OneWest in Franklin County in 2010 alone shows that the company frequently used robo-signers. The vast majority of the Columbus-area cases were signed by 11 different people in Travis County, Texas. Those employees called themselves vice presidents, assistant vice presidents, managers and assistant secretaries. In three local cases, a judge dismissed OneWest foreclosure proceedings specifically based on inaccurate robo-signings.
Beyond the Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee, Democratic Party leaders also said that they will not support Mnuchin if he passes out of the committee.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, the top Democrat in the Senate, said Monday that he will not support many of Trump’s cabinet nominees, Mnuchin included.
“I’ve made it very clear I will vote NO on nominees DeVos (education), Tillerson (state) and Sessions (attorney general),” Schumer wrote in a post on Facebook.
“Nothing will change that, and while I will continue to demand that each nominee issue a public statement on his or her views of President Trump’s Muslim Ban, I will vote against nominees who will be the very worst of this anti-immigrant, anti-middle-class, billionaires’ club cabinet,” Schumer continued. “Rep Mick Mulvaney for Budget Director, Rep Tom Price for Health and Human Services, Steve Mnuchin for Treasury, Scott Pruitt for EPA and Andy Puzder for Labor have repeatedly shown they will not put the American People or the Laws of our nation first, and I will vote against their confirmations.”
And Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., went on a tweetstorm about Mnuchin on Monday, urging all other Democrats to vote against Mnuchin.
“Steve Mnuchin won’t give us an honest answer about his foreclosure record. He’s not going to give us one when we give him our economy,” Warren tweeted. “I urge my colleagues: vote NO on Steve Mnuchin. Don’t put the fates of the families you represent in the hands of a lying Wall St insider.”