The Senate voted on Monday to confirm former Goldman Sachs executive,Wall Street banker and film financier, Steven Mnuchin as the next treasury secretary, the latest Cabinet member to be approved after a lengthy and at times contentious confirmation process.
He has also helped finance Hollywood blockbusters such as “Avatar,” “American Sniper” and this past weekend’s box office champion, “The Lego Batman Movie,” which took in $55.6 million.
The U.S. Senate voted to confirm Mnuchin 53-47, with all but one Democrat opposing him over his handling of thousands of foreclosures as head of OneWest Bank after the 2007-2009 housing collapse.
Facing opposition from Democrats and consumer activists, Mnuchin was one of Trump’s most controversial cabinet picks as his résumé and confirmation hearing seemingly ran counter to Trump’s populist campaign message of reining in Wall Street’s influence.
At a White House swearing-in ceremony, Trump said Mnuchin would be a “great champion” for U.S. citizens.
“He will fight for middle-class tax reductions, financial reforms that open up lending and create millions of new jobs, and fiercely defend the American tax dollar and your financial security,” Trump said. “And he will also defend our manufacturing jobs from those who cheat and steal and rob us blind.”
Mnuchin, 54, provided no details of his plans as he was sworn in.
“I am committed to using the full powers of this office to create more jobs, to combat terrorist activities and financing, and to make America great again,” Mnuchin said.
“It has been said that I ran a ‘foreclosure machine,’” Mnuchin said during his confirmation hearing. “This is not true.” He also came under fire for initially failing to disclose major financial assets in a federal disclosure statement.At his hearing, Mnuchin said “there would be no absolute tax cut for the upper class.”
At a prickly confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee last month, Mr. Mnuchin was scolded by Democrats for failing to disclose nearly $ 100 million in assets and for not revealing his role as a director of an investment fund based in the Cayman Islands, a well-known tax haven.
Republicans lauded Mnuchin’s, 30 years of experience working in a variety of capacities in the financial sector.On Monday, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, the Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, accused Democrats of making Mr. Mnuchin a political pawn and described their concerns as a stall tactic.
But Senate Democratic leaders still looked to score some points before Mnuchin’s vote.
“President Trump told Steve Mnuchin ,a Wall Street insider with decades of experience in that board room he described ,’you’re hired’ as my treasury secretary no less,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday. “That’s a broken promise.”
As Treasury secretary, Mnuchin, 54, will oversee a massive department that runs the federal tax system, pays the nation’s bills and produces currency and stamps.
As one of Trump’s top advisors, the New York City native will have the president ear in his key economic priorities, including tax reform, rolling back regulations on banks established by the Dodd-Frank Act, infrastructure project funding and changing or repealing Obamacare.
Mnuchin adds another Goldman veteran to a key spot in Trump’s administration, along with economic advisor Gary Cohn and chief strategist Steve Bannon. Perceptions of a pro-business administration that will cut taxes and roll back regulations have contributed to stocks climbing since Trump’s election in November.