Senate panel advances Trump's pick to be deputy Treasury secretary

Senate panel advances Trump's pick to be deputy Treasury secretary
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The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday approved President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration MORE’s nominee to be deputy Treasury secretary, but the top Democrat on the panel announced plans to put a hold on floor debate about the pick.

The Finance Committee advanced Justin Muzinich’s nomination to be deputy Treasury secretary by a party-line vote of 14-13.

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Muzinich has served as counselor to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinHuawei CEO: Daughter's arrest was 'politically motivated' Top Chinese official heading to Washington for trade talks The Hill's Morning Report - Trump faces mounting challenges to emergency declaration MORE since early last year. At his confirmation hearing last week, Republicans praised Muzinich for being a key asset during the GOP’s successful effort to pass tax-cut legislation.

But Finance Committee ranking Democrat Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Drug pricing fight centers on insulin | Florida governor working with Trump to import cheaper drugs | Dems blast proposed ObamaCare changes Top Dems blast administration's proposed ObamaCare changes Drug pricing fight centers on insulin MORE (Ore.) complained during the hearing that it was “a struggle to get straight answers to questions that ought to have been low-hanging fruit.”

Wyden cited as an example his question to Muzinich about whether Treasury had a role in preventing foreign governments from interfering in U.S. elections. Wyden also criticized Muzinich for saying that the new tax law will pay for itself — a claim that economists across the ideological spectrum refute.

Additionally, Wyden blasted a potential plan from the Trump administration to reduce capital gains taxes via an executive decision, calling the idea “a $100 billion handout to the most fortunate in America.”

Wyden previously announced that he plans to keep holds on Treasury nominees until the agency stops “stonewalling” Democrats’ requests for information from the department. He said he would put a hold on Muzinich’s nomination as well.

“His stonewalling would fit right in if he stood next to the Alexander Hamilton statue outside the Treasury building,” Wyden said.

The Finance Committee also approved the nomination of Michael Desmond to be chief counsel of the IRS on a bipartisan vote, with only Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal GOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats Pence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech MORE (D-R.I.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezWilliam Barr is right man for the times This week: Trump delivers State of the Union amid wall fight BuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president MORE (D-N.J.) voting "no."

Desmond is a California tax lawyer who has previously worked in the Justice Department’s Tax Division and at Treasury. If confirmed, he would play a key role in the IRS’s process of issuing guidance to implement the new tax law.

Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOrrin Hatch Foundation seeking million in taxpayer money to fund new center in his honor Mitch McConnell has shown the nation his version of power grab Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Utah Senate votes to scale back Medicaid expansion | Virginia abortion bill reignites debate | Grassley invites drug execs to testify | Conservative groups push back on e-cig crackdown MORE (R-Utah) called Muzinich and Desmond “eminent professionals and dedicated public servants.”