Senator blocks Treasury nominees

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., is blocking pending Treasury Department nominees with jurisdiction over tax policy and international finance in response to the Obama administration's delay of new Internet gambling prohibitions, according to Senate aides.

Kyl, a longtime foe of Internet gaming, helped push through the law banning the processing of online wagers in 2006, when it was tucked into a port security bill. The final regulations were issued in late 2008, in the waning days of the Bush administration, and were to be enforced beginning Dec. 1, 2009.

But a blizzard of petitions from gaming industry groups and financial services firms charged with blocking the transactions, as well as influential lawmakers such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., convinced the administration to delay the law's implementation. On Nov. 27, the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve jointly announced they would delay the new regulations until June 1.

Kyl was among the few arguing against a delay. "We strongly oppose this request and believe there is no justification for delaying the compliance deadline of the [gaming law] regulations," he and House Financial Services ranking member Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., wrote Nov. 3 to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

"[S]imply delaying the compliance date serves no interest except that of the Internet gambling enterprises that have long evaded American gambling laws and will continue to do so until effective enforcement is in place," they wrote.

Just before the Senate adjourned in late December, the Senate Finance Committee approved the nominations of Lael Brainard for undersecretary for international affairs; Michael Mundaca for undersecretary for tax policy; Mary John Miller for assistant secretary for financial markets, and Charles Collyns for undersecretary for international finance. Kyl was the lone "no" vote in each case.

The nominations appeared headed for smooth sailing after Finance ranking member Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, lifted his hold when the IRS agreed to lift certain small-business tax penalties. A year-end deal between the White House and Senate Republicans cleared a path for several long-stalled nominees, including Miriam Sapiro for deputy U.S. trade representative, to be confirmed.

But the Treasury nominees were still in limbo when senators went home for Christmas. A Kyl spokesman was unavailable for comment in time for publication, but other Senate officials confirmed his hold.

The fact that Sapiro got through and others did not was something of a surprise. Her nomination had been held up for months by Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., due to a dispute with the Canadian Parliament over tobacco regulations that he wanted USTR to adjudicate.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was able to pry Sapiro loose in exchange for Democrats to allow fellow Kentuckian Michael Khouri to be confirmed as a Federal Maritime Commissioner. He was nominated in early December.

Bunning was absent for votes on Christmas Eve, when the nominees were confirmed. But that did not stop him from immediately slapping holds on two other USTR nominees who had just been approved by the Finance Committee: Michael Punke, to be U.S. ambassador to the World Trade Organization, and Islam Siddiqui, to be chief U.S. agricultural negotiator.

Both are important posts given the ongoing Doha round of global trade talks that remain in limbo. A Bunning spokesman could not be reached in time for publication, but other sources confirmed his hold.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.