October 26,2021

Wyden Statement at Finance Committee Hearing on the Nominations of María Pagán and Chris Wilson to USTR, Brent Neiman and Joshua Frost to Treasury, and Samuel Bagenstos to HHS

As Prepared for Delivery

The Finance Committee meets this morning to discuss an important set of nominations that span three federal agencies and at least two continents.

María Pagán is President Biden’s nominee to serve as a Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and our envoy to the WTO in Geneva. Ms. Pagán brings to her nomination nearly three decades of experience in international trade law. She currently serves as USTR’s Deputy General Counsel, which puts her right at the heart of just about every effort to ensure that our trade laws and agreements are protecting American workers and businesses and giving them a shot to get ahead. She has valuable experience litigating disputes before the WTO, which makes her the right choice for this job.

Chris Wilson is President Biden’s nominee to serve as USTR’s Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator. It’s the first time a nominee for this role has come before the Finance Committee since the committee created this position in the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. It was long overdue.

Getting trade done right in the modern economy means fighting for manufacturers, farmers and ranchers, as well as fighting for the high-wage, high-skill jobs and businesses of the modern economy. It also means ensuring that our policies balance the interests of IP owners, innovators, technology users and the public at large. Mr. Wilson brings to his nomination 20 years of experience at USTR during which he has represented American workers and businesses in negotiations all across the globe. All that experience makes him an ideal choice to be the first ever Chief Innovation and IP Negotiator.

Joshua Frost is President Biden’s nominee to serve as Assistant Treasury Secretary for Financial Markets. It’s a challenging job that deals with a variety of subjects including debt management, the housing market and the health of our financial system. Mr. Frost has more than 20 years of experience in a variety of roles at the Federal Reserve, including more than 12 years at the open markets desk. He has overseen programs aimed at preventing another financial crisis and responding to the COVID-19 economic crash. He is a natural fit for this position that’s all about protecting the integrity and the stability of our economy and financial system.

Dr. Brent Neiman is President Biden’s nominee to serve as Deputy Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Finance & Development. This job deals with the most tangled, complicated policy questions having to do with the global economy. One of the big challenges Dr. Neiman will be working on, if and when he’s confirmed, is how to help solve the interruptions of global supply chains that are continuing to pop up as the pandemic continues to infect people around the world.

He’ll also work on the issue of currency manipulation, which is a subject this committee takes very seriously. He’ll have a leading role in the effort to make sure that multinational corporations can no longer hide their profits in shadowy tax shelters around the globe instead of paying a fair share. Dr. Neiman is currently the Edward Eagle Brown Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, and his decades of research have contributed to his expertise on international macroeconomics, finance and trade. He’s an excellent choice for this difficult job that handles a lot of tough issues.

Sam Bagenstos is President Biden’s nominee to serve as General Counsel to the Department of Health and Human Services. Mr. Bagenstos has worn a lot of hats in public service through his career. Currently he serves as General Counsel to the Office of Management and Budget. From 2009 to 2011 he was Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. He’s argued cases before the Supreme Court dealing with protections for pregnant workers and Americans with disabilities. An expert in civil rights law, he is currently on leave from his position as the Frank G. Millard Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School. At HHS, he’ll work closely with Secretary Becerra and his team and provide legal advice on all the department’s efforts to make health care more affordable, strengthen Medicaid, uphold the Medicare guarantee and ensure that vulnerable people in this country are protected and cared for.

I want to congratulate all five nominees and thank them for joining the committee today. After Senator Crapo makes his opening remarks, I’ll have a few routine questions that we ask all nominees, and then I’m looking forward to our discussion.