The Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday approved the nomination of Brian Miller, the White House lawyer whom President Donald Trump named to police his administration’s handling of the massive relief effort for the economic crisis.
The nomination was advanced on a 14-11 vote, with almost all Democrats opposed.
Miller, who will serve as a special inspector general overseeing the response to the coronavirus pandemic, has pledged that he would not seek Trump’s signoff before launching investigations, issuing reports or communicating with Congress.
The $2 trillion aid package Congress passed in March requires the new inspector general to notify lawmakers if he is impeded in his investigative work, but Trump said during the bill’s signing that any new watchdog would not be permitted to report to Congress without “presidential supervision.”
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) grilled Miller on whether he would comply with the president’s wishes during a two-hour Banking Committee hearing on his nomination last week. Democrats sharply questioned his ability to be an independent investigator given his current role as senior associate counsel to the president.
Miller said he would “immediately” inform lawmakers if an agency asked him to withhold information. He also said he would view the potential allotment of relief money to states based on political concerns as a violation subject to investigation.
All but one of the Democrats on the committee voted against the nomination, while Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) voted in favor.
The committee also approved the nomination of Dana Wade to be assistant secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development on a 15-10 vote.
Both nominations will now go to the full Senate.