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:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

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