Senate Banking Committee approves Treasury nominee

The Senate Banking Committee approved a long-delayed Treasury Department nominee Thursday.

The panel voted to advance Adam Szubin, whom President Obama nominated nearly a year ago to serve as the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes.

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Szubin’s approval marks the panel’s first since Republicans took control of the Senate at the beginning of 2015.

The slow pace at which the committee has considered the president’s nominees has emerged as a partisan battleground, as Democrats have grown impatient with the inaction under Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

Szubin, in particular, became a focal point of Democratic complaints, as they argued that failing to confirm him deprived the government of a critical official in the midst of the administration’s efforts to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). However, Szubin had been working at the Treasury Department in an acting capacity while his nomination awaited action.

“The simple fact is that the Senate should have unanimously confirmed Mr. Szubin last spring instead of keeping him in limbo for almost an entire year. Mr. Szubin is well-qualified for this important position, and the full Senate should confirm him without further delay,” said Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSenate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam Centrist state lawmaker enters Ohio GOP Senate primary The Trojan Horse of protectionism MORE (D-Ohio), the top Democrat on the Banking Committee.

For his part, Shelby indicated he did not want to begin work on nominees until he cleared a Republican primary back in his home state. Shelby easily defeated several challengers in that state’s primary at the beginning of March.     

Despite agreeing to vote on the nominee, Shelby voted against Szubin himself. In a statement, Shelby said he opposed Szubin because he would have to help implement the administration's nuclear deal with Iran in that role.      

There are signs that nominees could begin to move. The Banking Committee announced it would vote on two nominees to join the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as a new director of the U.S. Mint, at a hearing Tuesday.