Geithner wins Senate confirmation as Treasury secretary in 60-34 vote

The Senate on Monday confirmed Timothy Geithner as Treasury secretary, brushing aside a tax controversy to install a key member of President Obama’s Cabinet.

Senators voted 60-34 to approve Geithner, who revealed earlier this month that he failed to pay $34,000 in unpaid taxes from 2001 to 2004. Geithner has since paid off the tax debt and interest.


Republicans who crossed the aisle to support Geithner’s nomination included Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump's GOP impeachment firewall holds strong George Conway hits Republicans for not saying Trump's name while criticizing policy Trump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid MORE (Tenn.), John CornynJohn CornynSuccession at DHS up in the air as Trump set to nominate new head Trying to kick tobacco again This week: Congress returns to chaotic Washington MORE (Texas), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoGOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe Nearing finish line, fight for cannabis banking bill shifts to the Senate On The Money: Trump strikes trade deal with Japan on farm goods | GOP senator to meet Trump amid spending stalemate | House passes cannabis banking bill | Judge issues one-day pause on subpoena for Trump's tax returns MORE (Idaho), John Ensign (Nev.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCheney unveils Turkey sanctions legislation Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs War of words at the White House MORE (S.C.), Judd Gregg (N.H.), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump holds more Medal of Freedom ceremonies than predecessors but awards fewer medals Trump to award Medal of Freedom to former Attorney General Edwin Meese Trump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom MORE (Utah), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and George Voinovich (Ohio).

Democrats who bucked their party to oppose the nomination included Sens. Robert Byrd (W.Va.), Russ Feingold (Wis.) and Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinWisconsin lawmaker gets buzz-cut after vowing not to cut hair until sign language bill passed Democratic debates kick off Iowa summer sprint Key endorsements: A who's who in early states MORE (Iowa). Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — House Dems change drug pricing bill to address progressive concerns | Top Republican rejects Dem proposal on surprise medical bills | Vaping group launches Fox News ad blitz Democrats have reason to worry after the last presidential debate Krystal Ball on Sanders debate performance: 'He absolutely hit it out of the park' MORE (Vt.), an independent who caucuses with Democrats, also opposed the nomination.

Sens. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownCritics pounce as Facebook crypto project stumbles Trump administration blocked consumer watchdog from public service loan forgiveness program: report Democrats fear Ohio slipping further away in 2020 MORE (D-Ohio), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs Senate confirms Trump's Air Force secretary pick Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever MORE (D-Ore.) missed the vote.

Democrats urged Geithner’s approval on grounds that the Treasury Department is in urgent need of immediate leadership and his tax delinquency had been adequately explained and corrected.

“It’s never not important, no matter if the economy is in crisis or not,” Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHillicon Valley: FCC approves T-Mobile-Sprint merger | Dems wrangle over breaking up Big Tech at debate | Critics pounce as Facebook's Libra stumbles | Zuckerberg to be interviewed by Fox News | Twitter details rules for political figures' tweets Progressive action group defends Warren over dodging of 'Medicare for all' questions The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump seeks distance from Syria crisis MORE (D-Minn.) said. “But the thing is, he’s explained it.”

The GOP was split between those who said Geithner performed poorly at a Finance Committee hearing last week — Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) called Geithner’s explanations “implausible” — and those who lauded his background.

“The position is important, but he’s not the only person who can do the job,” Kyl told The Hill. “There are a lot of smart people who can do this job. And from a credibility standpoint, the person that’s enforcing the IRS laws probably should not be somebody who has questions about his own income tax.

“But even aside from that, I just don’t think he was candid with me or the committee, and it’s not a good way to start out, with a feeling that there’s a lack of candor from your nominee.”

Some Republicans, such as Sen. Jim Bunning (Ky.), criticized Geithner’s record as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and said the tax issue shows his judgment hasn’t improved.

“His failure to pay his own Social Security and Medicare taxes, despite clear evidence he knew he owed the taxes, reflects negligence or worse toward the law he will be responsible for enforcing,” Bunning said.

The Republican split was evident after Geithner’s 18-5 Finance Committee approval vote last week.

Republicans who backed Geithner said that it was not worth blocking the nomination over the tax controversy and that his background was otherwise solid. Particularly strong support came from Hatch, who said the Senate has a duty to confirm nominees unless they are grossly incompetent or corrupt.

Hatch also said conservatives should be rejoicing at Geithner’s selection.

“For my fellow conservatives who are very upset and up in arms about this, you are not going to get a better person for this job than Mr. Geithner,” Hatch said. “You better be darn happy the president has been willing to go to somebody who is a lot less ideological than any of us ever expected in this very, very important position.”