Trump's Treasury pick clears procedural Senate vote

Trump's Treasury pick clears procedural Senate vote
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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) ManchinSchumer: I don't know any 'Democrat who agrees' with O'Rourke on gun seizures O'Rourke: Many Democrats 'complicit' in gun problem The Hill's Morning Report - Pompeo condemns Iran for 'act of war' while Trump moves with caution 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.

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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 CornynZuckerberg woos Washington critics during visit Paul objection snags confirmation of former McConnell staffer GOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan 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 HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators 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 BrownBipartisan housing finance reform on the road less taken Hillicon Valley: Google to promote original reporting | Senators demand answers from Amazon on worker treatment | Lawmakers weigh response to ransomware attacks Senate Democrats want answers on 'dangerous' Amazon delivery system 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.”