Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee boycotted the vote to continue the confirmation process of Treasury Secretary appointee Steven Mnuchin, much to the chagrin of their Republican counterparts.
The hearing, moved to Tuesday morning after it was postponed from Monday night so Democrats could participate in events protesting the recent immigration order, saw no Democratic participants taking part in the vote. At least one Democrat is needed for the Senate Finance Committee to form a quorum.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) called the Democrats actions’ “abysmal,” saying never before has the United States gone so long without a confirmed Treasury Secretary.
“This has never happened before, that we’ve had this kind of treatment of cabinet officials,” Hatch said. “This is the most pathetic thing I’ve seen in my whole time in the United States Senate.”
Hatch said the Democrats presented him with a “list of demands” without which they would refuse to vote on Mnuchin’s appointment. Hatch called their behavior “amazingly stupid.”
“I’d like to see someone with courage on the other side,” he said. “Stop posturing and acting like idiots.”
Democrats told reporters outside the committee’s chambers that they want more information on Mnuchin’s time at OneWest; specifically, they want him to respond to claims the bank used automated “robosignings” during foreclosures.
Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) said via Twitter he has documents showing OneWest engaged in robosigning, contrary to his statements before the committee.
“Mr. Mnuchin just hasn’t been straight with the facts,” Casey said. “He must do so before committee process moves forward.”
Senate Democrats are using similar tactics to delay the vote on Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, who they say engaged in questionable stock transactions.
“Political debate and disagreement is the core of democracy, but refusing to take part in the vote is a dereliction of duty,” said Ed Delgado, President and CEO of the Five Star Institute and former Wells Fargo and Freddie Mac executive. “Steven Mnuchin is an eminently qualified choice for Treasury Secretary, and despite how Democrats may feel about his history he deserves a yes or no vote.”
No information on the next attempted vote has been released.
Mnuchin, nominated by President Donald Trump shortly after his election in November 2016. He indicated at that time he would roll back key provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010 to regulate Wall Street. He also said he would end the governmental conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
If confirmed by the Senate, Mnuchin would succeed Jack Lew, who took office on February 28, 2013 under former President Barack Obama. Adam Szubin is currently serving as acting secretary. Mnuchin would be the third former Goldman Sachs executive to lead the Treasury after Henry M. Paulson and Robert E. Rubin.