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 TrumpGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Trump speaks to rebel Libyan general attacking Tripoli Dem lawmaker: Mueller report shows 'substantial body of evidence' on obstruction 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: Inside the Mueller report | Cain undeterred in push for Fed seat | Analysis finds modest boost to economy from new NAFTA | White House says deal will give auto sector B boost The 7 most interesting nuggets from the Mueller report Government report says new NAFTA would have minimal impact on economy MORE (R-Iowa) and ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Inside the Mueller report | Cain undeterred in push for Fed seat | Analysis finds modest boost to economy from new NAFTA | White House says deal will give auto sector B boost Government report says new NAFTA would have minimal impact on economy Hillicon Valley: Washington preps for Mueller report | Barr to hold Thursday presser | Lawmakers dive into AI ethics | FCC chair moves to block China Mobile | Dem bill targets 'digital divide' | Microsoft denies request for facial recognition tech 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) MenendezWe can accelerate a cure for Alzheimer's The Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison Acting Defense chief calls Graham an 'ally' after tense exchange MORE (N.J.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseHillicon Valley: Washington preps for Mueller report | Barr to hold Thursday presser | Lawmakers dive into AI ethics | FCC chair moves to block China Mobile | Dem bill targets 'digital divide' | Microsoft denies request for facial recognition tech Dems introduce bill to tackle 'digital divide' Senators press drug industry 'middlemen' over high prices 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 ScottGOP senators dismiss Booker reparations proposal On The Money — Presented by Job Creators Network — GOP senators urge Trump not to nominate Cain | Treasury expected to miss Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Party divisions force Dems to scrap budget vote | House passes IRS reform bill GOP senators urge Trump not to pick Cain for Fed 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.