Baucus Statement on the Nomination of Teresa Ressel and Robert Nichols
I would like to welcome the two nominees that have come before us today. I believe thattoday’s hearing is important to the Treasury Department and to the country as a whole. Let meexplain why.
The Treasury Department and its officials have always played a critical role in our FederalGovernment. This dates back to our first Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton continuing to thepresent. Today, Treasury deals with a wide variety of issues that are at the forefront of our nationaland international age nda. For example, the Treasury Secretary serves as the primary economicspokesman for the Administration. The Treasury Department implements tax policy and collectsrevenue for the federal government. The Treasury Department creates our policies on the value ofour currency.
The Treasury Department is also responsible for executing borrowing by the FederalGovernment, including preventing default on our national debt. And I might add that thisresponsibility takes on even greater importance now that the Office of Management and Budget(OMB) projects near-term deficits of over $450 Billion a year, with the likelihood that these deficitswill turn out to be even higher.
The Treasury Department plays a critical role in the fight against terrorism. To illustrate mypoint, the IRS Criminal Investigation unit has worked diligently since September 11, 2001, withother law enforcement agencies to disrupt and dismantle the financial components of terroristorganizations. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Department of the Treasuryadministers and enforces financial, economic, and trade sanctions based on U.S. foreign policy andnational security goals against terrorists, those engaged in the proliferation of weapons of massdestruction, targeted foreign countries, and others.
These are just a few of Treasury’s many responsibilities. To help carry out its importantresponsibilities, Treasury must have a top-flight public affairs office. Because any word comingfrom the Treasury Department can cause financial markets to rise or fall immediately. We have allseen this happen.
And if the public affairs office is to do its job well, it has to have a well-qualified leader.The Administration has sent up such a nominee, Mr. Robert Nichols.
Just as important to the Treasury Department is its Office of Management, including the roleof its Chief Financial Officer. This unit deals with the wide range of infrastructure that is neededfor Treasury to carry out all of its vital responsibilities including, personnel, computer systems, themajor renovation of the treasury building, office space, and many more.
These may sound like very dry subjects. But let’s look a little deeper. The IRS CriminalInvestigations unit cannot disrupt terrorist organizations if it does not have enough funds to meet itsresource needs. OFAC cannot fight those engaged in the proliferation of weapons of massdestruction if its computer system is constantly malfunctioning -- even as much as two straight days– as has already occurred. The Treasury Department’s Inspector General cannot fight fraudadequately if 70 percent of its budget and staff are cut, when only 35% of its work was shifted to theDepartment of Homeland Security. These are just a few examples of the important role that theOffice of Management, including the Chief Financial Officer, play in order for Treasury to meet itsresponsibilities.
And as with the public affairs office, Treasury’s Office of Management needs a wellqualifiedle ader to head it and fulfill the role of the Chief Financial Officer. The Administrationhas sent Ms. Ressel as its nominee. When the Senate considers a nominee that has never held theposition before, there is always some uncertainty about how the nominee will perform in thatposition.
But this nomination is somewhat different. Because the nominee has already held theposition for which she is being selected. She has been the Acting Assistant Secretary ofManagement and Acting Chief Financial Officer for about nine months. Prior to this position, shewas a Deputy Assistant Secretary in that office for about fourteen months.
So we know a lot about how the nominee has performed in this job. In this case, I havequite a few concerns about Ms. Ressel’s tenure in the Office of Management and as Chief FinancialOfficer. And I plan to address those concerns with her when I have the opportunity to question herduring this hearing. Meanwhile, I look forward to hearing the testimony of both our nominees: Mr.Nichols and Ms. Ressel. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you again for holding this importanthearing.
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