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.

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Republicans who crossed the aisle to support Geithner’s nomination included Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism MORE (Tenn.), John CornynJohn CornynCongress pulls punches on Russian bounties firestorm Democrats seek to tie GOP candidates to Trump, DeVos Texas lawmakers ask HHS to set up field hospital, federal resources in the state MORE (Texas), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoSenate panel to vote on controversial Trump Fed pick Shelton GOP skeptical of polling on Trump GOP: Trump needs a new plan MORE (Idaho), John Ensign (Nev.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham says he will call Mueller to testify before Senate panel about Russia probe Romney blasts Trump's Stone commutation: 'Historic corruption' Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE (S.C.), Judd Gregg (N.H.), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchMellman: Roberts rescues the right? DACA remains in place, but Dreamers still in limbo Bottom line 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 HarkinErnst challenges Greenfield to six debates in Iowa Senate race Biden unveils disability rights plan: 'Your voices must be heard' Bottom line MORE (Iowa). Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden wins Puerto Rico primary In politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over Biden wins Louisiana primary MORE (Vt.), an independent who caucuses with Democrats, also opposed the nomination.

Sens. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSenate Dems request briefing on Russian bounty wire transfers On The Money: Mnuchin, Powell differ over how soon economy will recover | Millions fear eviction without more aid from Congress | IRS chief pledges to work on tax code's role in racial wealth disparities IRS chief pledges to work with Congress on examining tax code's role in racial wealth disparities MORE (D-Ohio), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenTrump administration to impose tariffs on French products in response to digital tax Mnuchin: Next stimulus bill must cap jobless benefits at 100 percent of previous income Congress must act now to fix a Social Security COVID-19 glitch and expand, not cut, benefits 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 KlobucharThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Fauci says focus should be on pausing reopenings rather than reverting to shutdowns; WHO director pleads for international unity in pandemic response State election officials warn budget cuts could lead to November chaos Biden strikes populist tone in blistering rebuke of Trump, Wall Street 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.”