Dems boycott vote for Treasury pick Mnuchin

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Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner and finance chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, is Trump's pick to be Treasury secretary.

NEW YORK– Senate Democrats are boycotting a committee vote on Treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin.

Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee didn’t show up Tuesday morning for votes on Mnuchin and Tom Price, President Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

The vote on whether to advance Mnuchin to the full Senate for confirmation had already been rescheduled once. Democrats delayed a Monday night vote so they could attend a candlelight vigil protesting Trump’s ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, the Republican chairman of the finance committee, said he was “really disappointed” in the Democrats.

“This is the most pathetic thing I’ve seen in my whole time in the United States Senate,” Hatch said.

It wasn’t immediately clear when the vote would take place.

Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker and Hollywood movie producer, would still need to be confirmed by the full Senate if the committee approves him.

At a hearing Jan. 19, Democrats challenged Mnuchin about his leadership of the bank OneWest, which has been accused of aggressive foreclosures and discriminating against minority borrowers.

Mnuchin defended the bank, saying regulators were at fault for foreclosures on widows, military families and other homeowners during the Great Recession.

“Since I was first nominated to serve as Treasury secretary, I have been maligned as taking advantage of others’ hardships in order to earn a buck,” Mnuchin said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

He also said Congress should raise the federal government’s borrowing limit, known as the debt ceiling, “sooner rather than later.”

If he’s confirmed, Mnuchin will join four Cabinet nominees who have cleared committee and are awaiting full votes in the Senate: Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, Elaine Chao for transportation secretary, Ben Carson for housing secretary and Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary.

Defense Secretary James Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley were all confirmed in the first few days of Trump’s presidency.

By Jill Disis