The GOP-controlled U.S. Senate has confirmed a new inspector general to oversee money distributed as part of the $2 trillion economic rescue law.
By a vote of 51 to 40, the Senate confirmed Brian Miller, a lawyer in the White House counsel’s office.
Almost every single Democrat voted against Miller after questioning his independence from President Donald Trump, who nominated him for the post, CBS News reported.
Alabama Sen. Doug Jones — who is up for re-election in November — was the only Democrat to vote for Miller.
As the special inspector general, Miller will be tasked with overseeing the taxpayer-funded coronavirus pandemic recovery fund.
Miller previously worked as a federal prosecutor and inspector general for the General Services Administration.
As special inspector general, Miller will oversee a $500 billion Treasury fund and is tasked with conducting audits and investigations on the purchase and sale of loans and loan guarantees related to the CARES Act.
That law mandated the creation of Miller’s role as an independent watchdog within the Treasury Department.
During his confirmation hearing, Miller calmly eased concerns from Democrats who claimed he would essentially be a lackey for Trump.
“If confirmed, I will conduct every audit and investigation with fairness and impartiality,” Miller said in his testimony last month. “I will be vigilant to protect the integrity and independence of the Office of Special Inspector General.”
Senate confirms White House lawyer Brian Miller as watchdog overseeing trillions of dollars in federal loans and grants https://t.co/mIQrvW9Jqc
— Bloomberg (@business) June 2, 2020
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer opposed Miller from the very beginning, which isn’t surprising.
“He did not convince me that he had the necessary independence to do this job,” Schumer whined.
Schumer claimed Miller “refused to provide any sense of his work or responsibilities in the White House counsel’s office and refused even to say whether President Trump was right or wrong to fire a rash of inspectors general in recent weeks,” Schumer said.
“Miller’s inability to demonstrate independence from his current employer, and speak out when he sees actions from administration officials that are clearly out of bounds, is deeply troubling given that this president seems to demand blind loyalty from federal inspectors general,” Schumer added.
Republicans took a different view of Miller and his career.
“Miller is highly qualified for the special inspector general position, having served as the inspector general for the General Services Administration for nearly a decade” in which he “led more than 300 auditors, special agents, attorneys, and support staff in conducting nationwide audits and investigations; and reported on fraud, waste, and abuse,” said Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee.
In late April, the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives cleared a new small-business and healthcare spending package that will provide $484 billion in funding that responds to the impact of the coronavirus.
The measure provides $310 billion to replenish a newly created small-business aid program, $75 billion for healthcare facilities, $25 billion to increased coronavirus testing, and $60 billion for an economic disaster-relief program.