Trump's Treasury pick clears procedural Senate vote

Trump's Treasury pick clears procedural Senate vote
© Getty

The Senate is paving the way for a final vote on Steven Mnuchin’s nomination to lead the Treasury Department.

The Senate voted 53-46 to move forward with his nomination, setting him up for a full confirmation vote. 

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDemocrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  Overnight Finance: House passes sweeping tax bill in huge victory for GOP | Senate confirms banking regulator | Mulvaney eyed for interim head of consumer agency Overnight Regulation: Senators unveil bipartisan gun background check bill | FCC rolls back media regs | Family leave credit added to tax bill | Senate confirms banking watchdog MORE (D-W.Va.) was the only Democrat to back Mnuchin.

Democrats nicknamed him the “foreclosure king” over a wave of foreclosures that occurred when he oversaw the California-based OneWest between 2009 and 2015.

Senators reached an agreement Thursday to have the confirmation vote on Mnuchin Monday evening, avoiding a rare Saturday session. 

Republicans praised Mnuchin ahead of the vote and blasted Democrats for slow-walking his and other Trump nominations.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP senator: ObamaCare fix could be in funding bill Senate GOP running out of options to stop Moore Texas Republicans slam White House over disaster relief request MORE (R-Texas) noted that Democrats were unlikely to succeed in blocking either Mnuchin or Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), confirmed early Friday morning to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

“The handwriting, of course, is on the wall. We all know that each of these nominees will be confirmed,” he said. “I guess my question is: What purpose is to be served by dragging all of this out?”

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchProminent conservative passes on Utah Senate bid Republicans offer this impossible choice: Tax cuts or senior care Senate GOP running out of options to stop Moore MORE (R-Utah) offered glowing praise for Mnuchin, saying that while they didn’t previously know each other, after spending hours with the longtime Goldman Sachs executive, Hatch thinks he’s “brilliant.”

“I said, ‘You know, Steven, you’re going to lose a lot of money by taking this job.’ He said, ‘I don’t care.’ He said, ‘I want to serve my country,' " the Finance Committee chairman said. “I was refreshed ... to the point that I’m going to help him every way I can become the greatest Treasury secretary we’ve ever had.”

But Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownScott Garrett poses real threat to EXIM Bank, small businesses Class warfare fight erupts over tax bills Senators Hatch, Brown have heated exchange on GOP tax plan MORE (D-Ohio) immediately rejected Hatch’s comments, questioning how the two senators were sitting through the same confirmation hearing.

“What struck me is I was sitting in the same committee room as our respected chairman, Sen. Hatch. I’m sitting in the same room, and I heard these two nominees lie to the committee,” he said, referring to Mnuchin and Price.

Mnuchin survived a rocky confirmation hearing last month before the Senate Finance Committee.

Democrats grilled him on a number of issues, including his views on tax reform and his updated financial disclosures that now include nearly $100 million in previously unreported assets, as well as a fund based in the Cayman Islands.

Mnuchin pushed back against tough questions from Democrats, arguing his bank tried to help struggling homeowners.

“There were mistakes. We regret those mistakes,” he told senators during the hearing. “Anyone who thinks we made more money foreclosing on a loan than modifying a loan has no understanding.”

Friday’s initial vote comes roughly a week after Republicans on the Finance Committee changed the rules so they could bypass a boycott and clear Mnuchin without a Democrat present.

Republicans made the unusual move after Democrats refused for two days to attend a vote.

“It’s just another way of roughing up the president’s nominees,” Hatch said at the time, defending the move. “They have been treated fairly. We have not been treated fairly.”