A divided Senate late Monday approved Steven Mnuchin to serve as the Trump Administration's Treasury Secretary, in a move that came over Democratic objections to the ex-Goldman Sachs banker's views on tax reform and the post-crisis Dodd-Frank Act.
The senate vote split almost completely down party lines, 53 to 47, in a vote where Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., was the only Democrat to back Mnuchin.
The approval comes after Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee on Feb. 1 used parliamentary procedures to bypass a Democratic boycott and approve Mnuchin 14-0, with no Democrats participating.
Before the senate vote, Democrats one-by-one took to the Senate floor to raise concerns about a variety of issues, including Mnuchin's backing of Trump's tax reform proposal, which they contend will increase the deficit even if the economy grows once corporate tax rates are cut.
A number of Democrats voted against Mnuchin's confirmation after they raised worries that he would dismantle key aspects of the Dodd-Frank statute, written in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Others raised questions about whether Mnuchin misled senators at his confirmation hearing about tax consequences for foreign investors in a hedge fund he helped manage.
Mnuchin told Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., at his January confirmation hearing, that off-shore entities for the hedge fund set up in the Cayman Islands, were not formed not to help him avoid taxes, but rather to accommodate foreign investors, pension funds and non-profits, that wanted to invest in his fund. "You helped other people, foreign investors, avoid paying U.S. taxes," Stabenow said on the Senate floor.