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 TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency 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 MnuchinTrump announces tariffs on 0B in Chinese goods Trump: China tariff announcement to come Monday afternoon Trump could hit China with tariffs of 0 billion as soon as Monday 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 WydenWyden says foreign hackers targeted personal accounts of senators, staffers Some employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report Hillicon Valley: North Korean IT firm hit with sanctions | Zuckerberg says Facebook better prepared for midterms | Big win for privacy advocates in Europe | Bezos launches B fund to help children, homeless 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 WhitehouseSenate Dems sue Archives to try to force release of Kavanaugh documents Dems call on Senate to postpone Kavanaugh vote Dems play waiting game with Collins and Murkowski MORE (D-R.I.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezDems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints Dem senators introduce resolution calling on Trump to stop attacking the press Booming economy has Trump taking a well-deserved victory lap 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 HatchGrand Staircase-Escalante: A conservation triumph is headed for future as playground for industry McConnell tamps down any talk of Kavanaugh withdrawal GOP offers to ban cameras from testimony of Kavanaugh accuser MORE (R-Utah) called Muzinich and Desmond “eminent professionals and dedicated public servants.”