May 22,2018

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Katie Niederee and Julia Lawless, 202-224-4515

Hatch Announces Departure of Long-Time Tax Counsel Mark Prater, Staffing Updates

WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today announced that after nearly 30 years with the Finance Committee, Deputy Staff Director and Chief Tax Counsel Mark Prater will be departing the committee staff. Prater joined the Finance Committee in January 1990 and has helped the committee advance tax and oversight legislation, including the biggest tax overhaul in more than three decades, as well as handling in-house staff matters. In addition to his work on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Prater also helped advance: the 1990 budget agreement, the 1997 tax relief bill, IRS restructuring, the Bush '01 and '03 tax cuts, major corporate tax reforms included in the 2004 FSC-ETI law, pension reform in 2006, and the PATH Act. 

“Mark has played a vital role in every major tax debate in the last quarter century,” Hatch said. “This experience, coupled with his encyclopedic knowledge of the tax code, has proved instrumental not only to the committee, but also to the conference as a whole as we ushered the passage of the largest tax rewrite in more than 30 years through Congress – we couldn’t have done it without him. As a public servant, Mark’s work has had a meaningful impact on Americans across the country, and while we will miss him and his steady guidance at the committee, I know Mark will find success in his future endeavors.” 

Hatch also announced the appointment of Dr. Jeff Wrase to serve as the new deputy staff director and Jennifer Acuña to be chief tax counsel. 

“Jeff’s knowledge of economics and a vast array of issues has been invaluable since he first joined my staff seven years ago. I am thrilled that he will be taking on an even bigger role,” Hatch said. “His leadership and experience are key to the committee as we continue to build on our success in tax reform and continue to advance a robust policy agenda.” 

“I am delighted that Jennifer will be stepping up to the plate in her new role as chief tax counsel,” Hatch continued. “She was responsible for crafting a complete overhaul of the international side of the U.S. tax code, which is already proving to make the United States more competitive and to bring jobs and investment back from overseas. I am confident that Jennifer will continue on this trajectory – her role is essential to ensuring tax reform is implemented efficiently and as Congress intended.” 

Wrase has served as the committee’s chief economist since 2011, working on a number of issues including tax reform, trade, budget issues and Social Security. Before joining the committee, Wrase worked as chief economist for the Senate Banking Committee, Senate Budget Committee, House Budget Committee, and Joint Economic Committee. He has a Ph.D. in economics from Brown University and has taught macroeconomics, monetary theory, quantitative methods, and finance at several universities, including the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. In addition to serving as deputy staff director, Wrase will also continue his role as chief economist.  

Acuña has served as the committee’s senior tax counsel and policy advisor since February 2017 where she was the lead policy staffer in drafting tax reform’s international provisions. Prior to joining the committee, she was tax counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee, and has experience at the IRS, White & Case, and Morgan, Lewis, & Bockius. She has a LL.M. in Taxation from the NYU School of Law and a J.D. from UCLA School of Law. 

Additionally, Hatch announced that Becky Cole will be joining the Finance Committee as Policy Director. Becky previously served as chief economist for the Senate Budget Committee under Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), where she advised on tax and revenues, reconciliation, and trade policy. Cole has also worked in the U.S. House of Representatives for Congressmen Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Barbara Cubin (R-Wyo.).  She holds a bachelor’s degree from Creighton University and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, both in economics. 

Wrase, Acuña and Cole will be a part of Hatch’s senior team, which also includes Staff Director Jay Khosla, Chief Trade Counsel Shane Warren, Health Policy Director Jen Kuskowski, Chief Oversight Counsel Chris Armstrong, Communications Director Julia Lawless and Deputy Communications Director Katie Niederee.