Senate panel advances Trump's pick for key IRS role

Senate panel advances Trump's pick for key IRS role
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The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday advanced for a second time President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally MORE's nominee for a key IRS position after the nominee didn't get a vote on the Senate floor in the last Congress.

The panel approved the nomination of Michael Desmond to be IRS chief counsel by a vote of 26-2.

Desmond is a California tax lawyer who has previously worked in the Treasury Department's Office of Tax Policy and the Justice Department's Tax Division.

If confirmed, Desmond will play a key role in IRS regulations. The IRS has been busy developing regulations to implement the tax law Trump signed in 2017.

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The IRS chief counsel role is one of only two positions at the agency that requires Senate confirmation. The IRS has not had a Senate-confirmed chief counsel since Trump took office.

The Finance Committee had previously advanced Desmond's nomination in August, but the full Senate did not take it up, leading Trump to resubmit the nomination to the Senate earlier this year.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOn The Money: Trade chief defends Trump tariffs before skeptical Congress | Kudlow denies plan to demote Fed chief | Waters asks Facebook to halt cryptocurrency project On The Money: Trade chief defends Trump tariffs before skeptical Congress | Kudlow denies plan to demote Fed chief | Waters asks Facebook to halt cryptocurrency project Trade chief defends Trump tariffs before skeptical Congress MORE (R-Iowa) and ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Trade chief defends Trump tariffs before skeptical Congress | Kudlow denies plan to demote Fed chief | Waters asks Facebook to halt cryptocurrency project On The Money: Trade chief defends Trump tariffs before skeptical Congress | Kudlow denies plan to demote Fed chief | Waters asks Facebook to halt cryptocurrency project Critics say Interior's top lawyer came 'close to perjury' during Hill testimony MORE (D-Ore.) both said Desmond was qualified for the position.

Wyden also used the Finance Committee's meeting to warn the administration against taking executive action to index capital gains taxes to inflation. Many conservative groups are pressing the administration to take such action, arguing that it would help to grow the economy. But Wyden argued that doing so would "be a special break for the fortunate few."

Two Democrats on the committee voted against Desmond: Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate to vote on blocking Trump's Saudi arms deal as soon as this week There is a severe physician shortage and it will only worsen Democrats ask Fed to probe Trump's Deutsche Bank ties MORE (N.J.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseThe DNC's climate problems run deep The Hill's Morning Report - Democrats wonder: Can Nadler handle the Trump probe? The Hill's Morning Report - Democrats wonder: Can Nadler handle the Trump probe? MORE (R.I.). Menendez has strongly opposed IRS proposed rules that take aim at blue states' efforts to circumvent the cap on the state and local tax deduction in Trump's tax law.

The Finance Committee also advanced three other nominees that the committee had approved in the last Congress, but didn't receive a vote by the full Senate.

The Committee advanced Elizabeth Darling's nomination to be commissioner on children, youth and families at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by a largely party-line vote of 16-12; Michael Faulkender to be an assistant secretary at the Treasury Department by a 26-2 vote; and Jeffrey Kessler to be an assistant secretary in the Commerce Department by a voice vote.

Wyden said he would put a hold on Darling's nomination, objecting to HHS's recent approval of a waiver for organizations participating in South Carolina's foster care program that uses religious criteria in choosing prospective foster parents.

Wyden said the ruling gave South Carolina "a green light for discrimination in its foster care programs" and will reduce the number of homes available for foster children.

But South Carolina Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottOn The Money: Trump weighs emergency declaration for Mexico tariffs | GOP senators look to rein in Trump on trade | Powell says Fed may cut rates if trade war hurts economy On The Money: Trump weighs emergency declaration for Mexico tariffs | GOP senators look to rein in Trump on trade | Powell says Fed may cut rates if trade war hurts economy Trump floats new emergency declaration to impose Mexico tariffs MORE (R) said he disagreed with Wyden's comments on the HHS ruling.

"The decision by HHS was to expand options" for adoption, Scott said, adding that he thought there should be options in adoption that are religious in nature.