Senate confirms Trump's watchdog for coronavirus funds

Senate confirms Trump's watchdog for coronavirus funds
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The Senate on Tuesday voted to confirm President TrumpDonald John TrumpWayfair refutes QAnon-like conspiracy theory that it's trafficking children Stone rails against US justice system in first TV interview since Trump commuted his sentence Federal appeals court rules Trump admin can't withhold federal grants from California sanctuary cities MORE's watchdog for the federal government's response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Senators voted 51-40 on Brian Miller's nomination to be the inspector general (IG) for pandemic response. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who faces a difficult election in November, was the only Democrat to support his nomination. 

Miller will be in charge of overseeing a $500 billion Treasury Department fund created as part of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed in March. The funding is supposed to go toward industries that have been impacted by the virus, such as airlines.

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Miller, a White House lawyer, has faced deep skepticism from Democrats on whether he would be willing to stand up to Trump, who has recently fired several inspectors general, including those tied to the impeachment inquiry. 

"Your time working as one of President Trump's impeachment defense attorneys should have disqualified you from being nominated to oversee the president's management of one of the largest corporate bailouts in American history. The demands on you will be particularly intense because this president has already fired multiple inspectors general and because he couldn't tolerate any criticism and he has already said that he will muzzle you," Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenIn politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over Trump defends Roger Stone move: He was target of 'Witch Hunt' Democrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' MORE (D-Mass.) told Miller earlier this year.

Since April, Trump has fired, berated or nominated replacements for inspectors general for the departments of Defense, Education, and Health and Human Services as well as the CIA, intelligence community and State Department and a panel of government watchdogs charged with overseeing the coronavirus response.

Miller, during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee, said he would not be influenced by the president. 

"I will be independent. If the president removes me, he removes me. If I am unable to do my job, I will resign. But I will do my job faithfully and independently,” Miller told Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterInternal poll shows tight battle in Montana House race Bipartisan Senate group offers bill to strengthen watchdog law after Trump firings Senate confirms Trump's watchdog for coronavirus funds MORE (D-Mont.).

Miller was the IG from 2005 to 2014 for the General Services Administration (GSA), where he feuded with former GSA chief Lurita Doan, a fellow Republican who resigned in 2008 after several alleged ethical violations raised by Miller and other government watchdogs.  

Sylvan Lane contributed