Chairman Sarbanes, Senator Gramm, Members of the Committee, by custom, I should thank you for holding this hearing on my nomination, and for doing so in such an expedited fashion—and I am indeed grateful for that—but I would like to take the liberty to depart from that custom. I would begin by thanking you and the members of the Committee for the privilege I have had for some twenty years to serve you and the many other Senators who have been Members of this Committee, and to thank you for the many considerations that you have extended to me during that time. I would tender that appreciation also to my colleagues on the staff, from my first staff director, Danny Wall—Chairman Jake Garn's chief of staff—to Steve Harris today, and to the many talented and dedicated professionals who have worked with us.
I am reminded of a frequent comment of one of my colleagues from the staff of Senator Jake Garn. She liked to say to us that it was such a privilege to work for the Senate that we should be working for free. While I understood the power of her sentiment, I resisted her prescription.
Senator Gramm has taken that concept a step further. He has occasionally remarked to the staff that we are learning so much that we should pay tuition. Again, there is great force in that idea, and again I resist the implications. I have been in Senator Gramm's graduate program for 15 years (and until today avoided graduation), and there is no way that I could cover the value of that education.
It was Senator Gramm who said, "If you are willing to tackle the tough issues, you don't need to worry about stepping on anyone's toes; they will stand aside and shove you to the front." I have enjoyed working with Senator Gramm on the tough issues.
The Senate, in addition to many things, is a great academy. It is as much a place of learning as it is a place of doing. And it is the learning and the doing that I believe qualify me for the next step before me.
And so now I express my gratitude to President Bush for extending to me the opportunity to serve the people of this nation in a new and challenging capacity. I am eager to begin working in his Administration, with the team of outstanding people he has brought together. I am grateful for the support that I have received from Treasury Secretary O'Neill, Deputy Secretary Dam, and Under Secretary Fisher. Having worked from the late 1970s until now on the making of laws affecting our financial institutions, I feel prepared to become involved in the administration of those laws, with the keen insight of experience into the intentions of the Congress in their making.
In one of the several interviews I went through for this job, the discussion moved to my feelings about the Congress. My thoughts turned to a time, when I was just a young, rather junior member of the staff of this Committee. I was thinking of a warm evening, when I had left the Capitol building to walk back to my office. The Senate had just ended the day, passing legislation that I had been working on—I think it was a bill amending the Export Administration Act. It was one of those beautiful nights, with the white dome of the Capitol gleaming against the dark sky. While charmed by the beauty of the scene, I was even more exhilarated by the experience I had just left. I was thrilled by the thought, the overwhelming sense of the power of our Constitution, that it works, that 100 men and women, from all parts of the country, elected by their fellow citizens to represent their States, had come together here and made a decision that was now the law of the land for over 200 million people.
That thought still exhilarates and charms me. It has been a privilege to lend a hand in that process.
And now, with this deep and broad experience behind me, I believe that I am ready for duty in the Treasury Department, with a full, deep understanding of the interaction of the Executive and Legislative Branches and how they work together to meet the needs, concerns, and interests of the people who elected our leaders and whom we are called upon to serve.
The job of Treasury's Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions is particularly well-suited for such a background. Nearly all of our financial institutions are overseen by regulators with varying degrees of institutional independence, placed somewhere between the two branches of government. I believe that they have been so situated to meet two important goals: to minimize political influence in the regulation of our financial institutions while retaining adequate accountability over the regulators.
That accountability can best be maintained, then, in cooperation between the two branches, addressing the issues on the basis of principles and sound policies. And while that may seem nice to say in theory, it has been my experience that it works that way in practice. And if confirmed, it is my intention to continue that productive tradition.
And now I would be pleased to answer any questions that you may have.
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