May 16, 2017

Brown Opening Statement at Hearing on Treasury, Commerce Nominees

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs – released the following opening statement at today’s hearing on four nominations for key national security roles in the U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments. The nominees are Sigal Mandelker to be Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Crimes; Marshall Billingslea to be Assistant Treasury Secretary for Terrorist Financing; Heath Tarbert to be Treasury Assistant Secretary for International Markets and Development; and Mira Radielovic Ricardel to be Commerce Under Secretary for Export Administration.

Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow.

Senator Sherrod Brown - Opening Statement
Nominations Hearing
May 16, 2017 

Mr. Chairman, today the Banking Committee is meeting to assess the qualifications of four nominees the President has put forward for key national security roles in the Treasury and Commerce Departments.

These include Ms. Sigal Mandelker to be Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Crimes; Mr. Marshall Billingslea to serve as Treasury Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing; Mr. Heath Tarbert to be Treasury Assistant Secretary for International Markets; and Ms. Mira Ricardel to serve as Commerce Under Secretary for Export Administration.

As you have introduced them, Mr. Chairman, I will not spend more time on their distinguished backgrounds. But I join you in thanking the nominees for their willingness to serve, and in welcoming them, and their family members, to the committee.

I am pleased that we appear to be returning to the Banking Committee’s long tradition of giving administration appointees full, fair and prompt consideration.  For the last two years, this committee slow-walked, and in some cases stone-walled, the President’s nominees for key positions in our jurisdiction.

Adam Szubin, who testified before one of our subcommittees last week, was denied a committee vote for many months, and then was never considered by the Senate.  All this despite broad bipartisan support for him and the superb work he did in the terrorism and illicit finance arena at Treasury for many years.

Considering the volatile situations in North Korea, Syria, Iran, and with non-state actors like ISIS, I am all for getting these important national security nominees in place. How fast we do so likely depends in part on how quickly the Treasury Department satisfies a bipartisan request for certain financial information on the Russia investigation by the Intelligence Committee.  I hope that information is provided without further delay.

As Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Crimes, Ms. Mandelker would oversee the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.  With over 700 employees, this office marshals Treasury’s intelligence and enforcement functions. Its twin aims are to safeguard the financial system against illicit use and to combat threats from rogue nations, terrorist facilitators, weapons of mass destruction proliferators, money launderers, and drug kingpins. This is also perhaps the most important role in the US government to ensure that economic measures like sanctions are applied effectively against our adversaries.

Mr. Billingslea’s role alongside Ms. Mandelker will also be critical. He has been selected for a position at the head of a unit that does outreach across all elements of the national security community – including the law enforcement, regulatory, policy, diplomatic and intelligence communities – and with the private sector and foreign governments to identify and address illicit finance threats within the international financial system.

Mr. Tarbert has been nominated to be Treasury Assistant Secretary for International Markets and Development. If confirmed, he would be responsible for leading Treasury’s efforts related to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), as well as international financial services regulation, trade, development, technical assistance, and climate finance. 

CFIUS continues to play a vital role reviewing foreign investments that could threaten national security.  We should be concerned when investments come from entities with ties to the Chinese government and State-owned enterprises. We have already seen attempts by foreign entities to acquire businesses and real estate of senior administration officials. 

In addition, after the financial crisis, and as economies around the world continue to recover, it is essential that Treasury engage with our international counterparts to conduct strong financial services oversight.  I expect the U.S. will continue to pursue strong rules, and not support a race to the bottom that puts the world’s financial institutions at risk.

Finally, as Under Secretary for Export Administration, Ms. Ricardel would oversee the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry & Security.  BIS is a licensing, regulatory, and enforcement agency that works to ensure an effective export control and treaty compliance system, and promotes U.S. technology leadership and a strong defense industrial base. 

Again I welcome all the nominees to the committee, and look forward to hearing from them.