The U.S. Senate on Monday voted to confirm former Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin as Treasury secretary, installing the Trump administration’s point-man on tax reform, financial deregulation and economic diplomacy efforts.
The Senate voted 53-47 in a largely party-line vote to approve the nomination. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia was the only Democrat to vote in favor of Mnuchin.
Mnuchin, a second-generation Goldman Sachs banker who led the firm’s mortgage bond trading but left the bank in 2002, has come under fire over his investor group’s 2009 acquisition of another failed lender, IndyMac Bank, in a deal in which the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp agreed to absorb most of the losses on IndyMac foreclosures.
The bank, rebranded as OneWest, subsequently foreclosed on more than 36,000 homeowners, drawing charges from Democrats and housing advocates that it was a “foreclosure machine.”
“Mr. Mnuchin’s business record tells us he was directly engaged in the predatory practices that led to our financial recession and destroyed the life savings of countless American working families,” Democrat Richard Durbin said on Monday in Senate floor debate. “He’s the wrong man to be America’s Treasury secretary.”
Mnuchin grew OneWest into Southern California’s largest lender and sold it for $3.4 billion in 2015. 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.
Republican Senator Orrin Hatch urged colleagues to approve Mnuchin because of his 30 years of broad finance experience.
“Long story short, under any objective standard, Mr. Mnuchin has ample experience, credentials, and qualifications for this important position,” Hatch said.