Mnuchin defends Treasury regulations on GOP tax law

Mnuchin defends Treasury regulations on GOP tax law
© Greg Nash

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinSuspect in Khashoggi murder arrested The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to tackle omicron risks with new travel rules Mnuchin and McConnell discuss debt limit during brief meeting MORE on Wednesday defended his department's regulations implementing provisions of President TrumpDonald TrumpJury in Jussie Smollett trial begins deliberations Pence says he'll 'evaluate' any requests from Jan. 6 panel Biden's drug overdose strategy pushes treatment for some, prison for others MORE's tax cut law, which Democrats argue have been overly beneficial for corporations.

“Our job is to implement the legislation, not to make the legislation,” Mnuchin said at a Senate Finance Committee hearing.

Democrats and Republicans have long been fighting over Trump's 2017 law, which received no Democratic votes. In recent weeks, a key issue in the messaging battle over the law has been over regulations implementing the measure's international provisions, following a New York Times article about corporate lobbying on the rules.

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Democrats argue that Treasury guidance has been too generous for corporations following businesses' lobbying efforts, and may have exceeded the Treasury Department's legal authority.

Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenPharma lobby eyes parliamentarian Hillicon Valley — Presented by Connected Commerce Council — Senate grills Instagram chief Major utilities agree to stop sharing data with ICE MORE (Ore.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBiden's pick for bank watchdog pulls out after GOP accusations of communism Senate race in Ohio poses crucial test for Democrats Powell says Fed will consider faster taper amid surging inflation MORE (Ohio) — the top Democrats on the Senate Finance and Banking committees, respectively — introduced legislation on Wednesday to block a regulatory proposal relating to one of the tax law's international provisions. Wyden described the proposal in a news release as a "proposed giveaway that essentially allows corporations to choose the lowest available tax rate."

But Mnuchin said that Treasury's decisions about tax law regulations have been based on legislative intent rather than corporate lobbyists.

"On a regular basis, we meet with lots of people to take in input. We've reached out to the committee and its staff," he said.

GOP senators also defended the Treasury's regulations on the tax law.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyOvernight Defense & National Security — Biden: US troops to Ukraine 'not on the table' Gillibrand slams committee leadership, Pentagon for military justice reform cuts Former Sen. Bob Dole dies at 98 MORE (R-Iowa) said that it's part of the regulatory process under the Administrative Procedure Act for the agency to seek comment from stakeholders.

"I don't see how you can do your job of implementing new law that is so far-reaching without listening to stakeholders," he said.

Grassley added that "the business community certainly doesn't seem to think that they've received everything for which they've asked."

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGOP working to lock down votes on McConnell debt deal Hillicon Valley — Presented by Connected Commerce Council — Incident reporting language left out of package Language requiring companies to report cyberattacks left out of defense bill MORE (R-Ohio) said that if anything, Treasury's approach has been "very conservative" with respect to the rule Brown and Wyden are targeting in their bill.

“Our job has been to implement that part of the tax code consistent with the intent and as prescribed by the law and that’s what we’ve done," Mnuchin said in response to a question from Portman.

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A U.S. Chamber of Commerce official said in a statement Wednesday that the group opposes Wyden and Brown's bill because it seeks to remove Treasury's authority to implement a regulation that ensures that the tax law works as Congress intended.

Wyden said Democrats' feedback wasn't sought on the tax "loopholes" they find problematic.

"I would have been fighting them every step of the way," he said.