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Sherrod B.
Democrat OH

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  • Unanimous Consent Requests—Nominations

    by Senator Sherrod Brown

    Posted on 2015-12-09

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    BROWN. Mr. President, I rise again today to support Adam Szubin's nomination to serve as Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Crimes at the Treasury Department, as well as to support several other nominees whose nominations have been pending before the Senate banking committee for many months--some for almost a full year--with no vote.

    All of these nominees have had hearings. They have all completed a thorough committee vetting process and [[Page S8518]] they are ready to be approved. Yet the Senate banking committee is the only committee in the Senate that has not yet held a single vote on any administration nominee in this Congress--not one vote on any of the more than a dozen nominees this Congress.

    There are 13 nominees pending before the committee. Here we are in the final month of the year, and Republicans still have not held a vote on any of them.

    This inaction stands in stark contrast to this committee's record on nominees over the past 15 years. When we look at this chart, we see for the 107th, 108th, 109th, 110th, 111th, 112th, 113th, 114th--eight Congresses, 15 years--this Congress is only half completed--Republican Presidents during much of this time and Democratic Presidents during much of this time; a Republican majority in the banking committee during some of this time and a Democratic majority in the banking committee during some of this time. Yet when we look at these numbers, we see lots referred to committee, but when we look at the number of approved by committee for this Congress: zero. The number confirmed by the Senate coming out of banking for these nominations: zero. The number returned to the President: zero. The number withdrawn: zero.

    In other words, time after time, year after year, President after President, Senate majority after Senate majority, we have seen the Senate banking committee actually do its work, until the 114th Congress, 2015: nothing in terms of approval. In this Congress, the committee has failed to carry out its duty to consider and act upon the President's nominees.

    Let me start with Mr. Szubin, who is currently serving in his critical position in an acting capacity. Despite having bipartisan support--the Presiding Officer I know is also on the banking committee--his nomination has languished for 200 days because of Republican obstruction.

    This is a critical national security post that must be filled permanently. Mr. Szubin heads what is in effect Treasury's economic war room, managing U.S. efforts to combat terrorist financing and fight financial crimes. He can do his job better if he is not acting but if he is in fact the confirmed nominee of the President of the United States. He is helping to lead the charge to choke off ISIL's funding sources. We are introducing legislation today, in part, answering the threat of ISIL and the threat of terrorism and, in part, by coming up with new ways to choke off funding for the terrorists. Nobody is in a better position in our government--nobody--than Mr. Szubin, and I want him confirmed so he can do his job better. It would prevent developing additional capacity to strike war targets around the world. He is working to hold Iran--regardless of how one voted on the Iran nuclear deal, he is going to hold Iran to its commitments under the nuclear deal and lead a campaign against the full range of Iran's other destructive activities.

    Mr. Szubin has served in senior positions first in the Bush administration and now in the Obama administration. I don't know if he is a Democrat or Republican. I don't really care. He is an acknowledged expert in economic sanctions and counterterrorist financing. There is no question--no question--that he is qualified for this position. Over the last 15 years he has distinguished himself as an aggressive enforcer of our Nation's sanctions laws against Russia, against Iran, against North Korea, and against money launderers, against terrorists, and against narcotraffickers. Given all the concerns surrounding terrorist financing--legitimate concerns that Senator Shelby has and that I have and probably all other 98 Members of the Senate have--one would think a nomination would be a priority. In the past, it has been.

    Szubin's mentor, Bush Under Secretary Stuart Levey, was confirmed by the Senate just 3 weeks after his nomination came to the banking committee. The Senate took just 2\1/2\ months to consider Mr. Szubin's immediate predecessor.

    Mr. Szubin has support across the political spectrum. Even many groups opposed to the Iran nuclear deal support his nomination. The banking committee chairman, Senator Shelby, my friend who is in the Chamber, described Mr. Szubin as ``eminently qualified.'' He deserves the strong backing of the Senate. Without it, his ability to operate here and abroad is less than it should be.

    So I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to executive session and the banking committee be discharged from further consideration of PN371, the nomination of Adam J. Szubin to be Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Crimes; that the Senate proceed to its consideration and vote without intervening action or debate; that if confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate; that no further motions be in order to the nomination; that any statements related to the nomination be printed in the Record; that the President be immediately notified of the Senate's action and the Senate then resume legislative session.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?

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