September 22,2021

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Wyden Statement on Senate Floor on Vote to Confirm Lily Batchelder to be Assistant Treasury Secretary for Tax Policy

As Prepared for Delivery

Madam President, today the Senate is debating Professor Lily Batchelder’s nomination by President Biden to serve as Assistant Treasury Secretary for Tax Policy. I want to take just a few minutes to talk about why the Senate ought to confirm her nomination as quickly as possible.

First of all, Lily is no stranger to us in the United States Senate – particularly to members of the Finance Committee. From 2010 until 2014 she served as Chief Tax Counsel to then-Chairman Max Baucus. That was a time when members were hard at work trying to drive an economic recovery following a recession. It was also a time when members were trying to bring some sense to our broken tax code. Lily worked with Democrats. She worked with Republicans. She knows what it takes to bring the two sides in Congress together to solve big challenges.

After the Finance Committee, Lily became the Deputy Director of the National Economic Council under President Obama. She’s currently the Robert C. Kopple Family Professor of Taxation at NYU School of Law.

She is one of the foremost experts when it comes to crafting tax policies that bring working Americans into the economic winner’s circle. She knows the tax code, and she also knows how the Congress and the administration work. There’s no doubting her qualifications for the role of Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy. That’s a big reason why the Finance Committee approved her nomination with a strong, bipartisan margin in June – 22 to 6. Members on both sides of the committee supported her nomination. The Senate ought to vote the same way.

Now, Lily’s nomination has waited long enough for consideration here on the Senate floor. Secretary Yellen needs her full team in place at the Treasury. The country is going to be dealing with the aftereffects of the pandemic economic crash for years to come. There’s a long way to go before full recovery.

There are also other major challenges staring us in the face that deal with tax policy – including the climate crisis, the nationwide lack of affordable housing, and the ever-climbing cost of raising a family in Oregon and across the country. Those are issues that the administration is focused on solving, and they’re issues that members of the Senate are tackling as well.

When Professor Batchelder is confirmed, she’s going to be right at the center of those efforts, and the Finance Committee is going to keep her busy.

For example, earlier this year, the committee passed my bill called the Clean Energy for America Act. It’s all about updating our energy tax code to address the climate crisis, because in this country, energy policy is tax policy. It throws out the old patchwork of 44 different energy tax breaks – a system that denies a lot of important renewable technologies the kind of certainty they need to grow. It replaces that old system with a simpler set of incentives based on three goals – clean energy, clean transportation, and energy efficiency. The name of the game is reducing emissions. I’m pushing for the Congress to pass that bill, and I will want to work with the administration to implement it correctly.

The Senate is also working on policies that make it easier and more affordable to support a family in America. That includes extending the expanded Child Tax Credit. It includes investing in affordable housing. It includes helping create high-wage, high-skill jobs, and modernizing unemployment insurance to support workers and their families when they fall on hard times.

My view is, the Congress needs to pay for these priorities by making sure that mega-corporations and the ultra-wealthy pay a fair share. I’ve been working with members on tax changes dealing with the fact that the biggest corporations are paying less today than they have at any point in decades.

I’m also making progress on a Billionaires Income Tax. The fact is, while teachers and nurses and factory workers pay income taxes straight out of every paycheck, it’s not right that billionaire heirs are never paying tax on the stock gains that are their biggest source of income. Closing that loophole for billionaires is good policy. It’s also a matter of basic fairness to working people in Oregon and all across the country – and it’s a policy the American people overwhelmingly support.

Developing these policy ideas and writing the legislation is only half the challenge. You also have to implement them the right way to give families the support they need and to give businesses the certainty and predictability they need. That’s why it’s so important that the Senate confirm Lily Batchelder as quickly as possible. The Treasury Department needs its tax policy point guard. She is the expert, she knows how to get things done, and she has proven that she can bring the two sides together.

I support the Batchelder nomination fully. I urge my colleagues to do the same, and I yield the floor.