Steven Mnuchin, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Treasury, moved closer to a full Senate vote on his confirmation after all.
Following a second day of protest by Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee, the Republicans on the committee voted to bypass the rules requiring the Democrats to be present for a vote to move a candidate to the next round.
The GOP senators voted 14 to zero to advance both Mnuchin and Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Tom Price to the Senate for a final confirmation vote.
The Republican members of the Committee used a parliamentary procedure to hold the vote without the participation of the Democratic members.
“We took some unprecedented actions today due to the unprecedented obstruction on the part of our colleagues,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, the chair of the committee, said.
Hatch on Tuesday called the Democrats’ efforts to stall a vote on Mnuchin “abysmal” and “amazingly stupid,” excoriating them to return and give Mnuchin an up-or-down vote.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, accused Republicans of “breaking the rules” by holding a vote without Democratic input.
“I don’t know all the details of what just transpired, but it seems to me the basic proposition of breaking the rule so that you can in effect look the other way in the face of strong evidence of serious ethical problems for two nominees is exceptionally troubling,” Wyden said.
Several Democratic senators said they have concerns over Mnuchin, specifically over the use of “robo-signing” during his tenure at OneWest.
“I am pleased that Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin will move on to a full Senate vote,” said Ed Delgado, President and CEO of the Five Star Institute and former Wells Fargo and Freddie Mac executive. “However, it is unfortunate that the Senate Finance Committee could not come to this decision unilaterally. If there was ever a time to move forward together as a nation, that time is now.”
Paulina Gonzales, executive director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, said she’s opposed Mnuchin’s nomination from the start, saying he intentionally misled the Committee about OneWest’s activities during the housing crisis.
“Senator Hatch and the Republicans on the committee sent a clear message to the American public this morning that a presidential nominee need not tell the truth about his record and can still be assured of his nomination being moved forward,” Gonzales said. Voters place our trust in our senators to obtain the truth from presidential nominees about their track records, and in fact, that is the point of confirmation hearings. Yet at Mr. Mnuchin’s hearing, he lied to the senators about his bank’s well-documented history of robo-signing, he refused to provide information about the numbers of foreclosures he had overseen at OneWest Bank, and, amazingly, he continued this obfuscation twice in his follow up written responses to senators.”