WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, May 25, the Senate Committee on Finance will hold a hearing on the pending nominations of J. Nellie Liang to be an Under Secretary of the Treasury, Jonathan Davidson to be Deputy Under Secretary of the Treasury, Lily Lawrence Batchelder to be an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and Benjamin Harris to be an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. The openings statements of the nominees are below.
Opening Statement of Nellie Liang before the Senate Committee on Finance
May 25, 2021
Chairman Wyden, Ranking Member Crapo, and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.
I am honored to have been nominated by President Biden to be Under Secretary for Domestic Finance at the Department of the Treasury, and by the trust of Secretary Yellen.
I am grateful to the Committee for considering my nomination.
I am also grateful for the support of my husband of 37 years, Ken Howard, who is here with me today, and my children, Greg and Kim. I would also like to recognize my parents, who immigrated to this country many decades ago, with very little beyond their values. But they believed that in this country, if their children went to school, worked hard, and committed to family and community, they would have many opportunities to contribute to this country’s potential and share in its prosperity.
I am an economist by training and have spent many years in public service. I have studied and have seen up close how financial institutions and financial markets affect economic and financial stability. I am committed to applying the insights from this experience, as well as from data, research, and broad outreach, to policy making.
The pandemic revealed fragilities in the economy, especially in some communities that were least able to bear the burden. It also revealed fragilities in parts of our financial system. If confirmed, I will work to support the President’s and the Treasury Secretary’s priorities to promote a financial system that will lead to more sustainable and equitable economic growth.
In doing so, I will build on the strengths of the U.S. financial system, which is the world’s strongest, providing trillions of dollars of credit to households, businesses, and governments each year to support their spending and investments. The system has demonstrated time and again its ability to adapt to changes in the demand for services and in technology, bringing about significant changes in how financial services are delivered. Recent developments in digital assets have the potential to be even more transformative for financial services.
If confirmed, I look forward to working with members of this committee and others to ensure that the evolving financial system continues to meet the needs of the American people. I will work to improve credit access to underserved communities, including through the implementation of various programs at Treasury that provide both capital and technical assistance to small businesses and low-income communities. In addition, while our dynamic financial system spurs growth, it can also lead to significant regulatory gaps over time. I will work to ensure that we are adopting policies that recognize these changes, to ensure consumers and investors are informed and protected, and risks to financial stability are mitigated.
In addition, a critical responsibility for Treasury is to manage the costs of government financing. The Treasury securities market is the deepest, most liquid market in the world. The country benefits from the special attributes of Treasury securities, and I believe it is critical that we ensure that the Treasury market operates well in periods of stress. If confirmed, I will endeavor to provide an assessment of changes in this market that have arisen from technological advances and shifts in market participants’ behavior, and recommend policies, as needed, to ensure a resilient Treasury securities market.
In short, if I were to have the honor of serving in this role, it will be my priority to promote an efficient and stable financial system that can meet the needs of a dynamic economy. I recognize that this effort will take constant communication with the members and staff of this committee. I very much look forward to working closely with all of you and your colleagues to accomplish these goals.
Thank you again for the privilege of appearing before you today, and I look forward to answering your questions.
Opening Statement of Jonathan Davidson before the Senate Committee on Finance
May 25, 2021
Chairman Wyden, Ranking Member Crapo, and Members of the Finance Committee, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today.
I’d like to start by expressing my gratitude to Senator Bennet and his remarkable team, with whom I spent almost half of my Senate career and from whom I’ve learned so much about the long game, decency, and thoughtfulness. I’m so proud of the work that I was fortunate to do with Senator Bennet during that time. Most recently, it has been an absolute thrill to see his and Senator Brown’s American Family Act – not to be mistaken for the American Families Plan – become law, which will lift nearly 50 percent of children out of poverty in one single year.
I’d also like to thank Senator Warner, from whom I’ve learned so much as well, for his friendship and extraordinary support.
And I want to mention the Sarbanes family. Paul Sarbanes, who passed away late last year, was my mentor. He is dearly missed by me and my family. He is someone who made me understand and appreciate the historical conscience of the Senate. And I want to extend gratitude to John Sarbanes, his son, who has been so successful in the House of Representatives and helped me learn to navigate the ways of that body.
Finally, and most importantly, I’d like to thank my family; my kids, Leo, Mia, and Serena, who all make us proud -- almost all the time. And I know nominees often throw around hyperbole, but my wife Erin Sheehy is the reason I’ve been able to make it through anything difficult in my adult life – and she has been absolutely critical throughout this process. I’ve said this more than a few times: she has carried me and our family. And the same to my brother, who is the best older brother anyone could ever have, and to my father, who has been an example of the very best in parenthood and life generally, and who taught me about politics, diplomacy, and public service.
And finally, to my mom, whom we lost earlier this year, but whose relentless commitment to the underdog continues to inspire me every day. Thank you, and I love you all.
The partnership between Treasury and this Committee, its Members, and Congress overall is so important to the federal government and to the country. Just like all of you, the Treasury Department is working hard to help us recover from the pandemic and the related economic crisis. Treasury is implementing significant relief and recovery efforts and working on policies to strengthen our economy, to repair gaps in our nation’s infrastructure, and to remedy uneven access to the American dream. And it’s doing all that work on top of its substantial day-to-day responsibilities, like financing the government and implementing foreign economic sanctions. I fully appreciate how much we need to partner with this committee, in its legislative and oversight functions, to succeed in these efforts.
If I’m confirmed, my goal will be to serve as a reality broker between Treasury and Capitol Hill. Where we can provide information to members of Congress to help them do their jobs and aid their constituents, we should do so fully. Where we cannot, we should provide a clear and cogent explanation as to why not.
I am privileged to have spent the majority of my career working on Capitol Hill. I have learned so much about trust and character up here, and I have learned also to be cognizant of the fact that there is always even more that I don’t know. I’ve come to recognize that almost everyone who comes to work here has good intentions. Most of the Members and staff are patriots who want to help our country. I have also come to learn that most of the good work we can all do together happens beneath the political din and sensationalized conflict. If confirmed, I hope to listen to you and work with you, to make real progress for every American.
In conclusion, I want to thank the Chairman, the Ranking Member, and their staffs. We all recognize how much work in addition to nominations everyone has to do and we are grateful for the effort it took to conduct this hearing. Thank you and I look forward to your questions.
Opening Statement of Lily Batchelder before the Senate Committee on Finance
May 25, 2021
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Crapo, and Members of the Committee — thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. And thank you Senator for the very kind introduction.
It is an honor to appear before this Committee, having served as the Chief Tax Counsel under former Chairman Baucus for four years. Being a tax person, that was a dream job, and I am humbled to be considered for another dream job today, serving as the Treasury’s Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy.
I have great respect for this Committee and the critical nature of its work. We face immense challenges as a country in navigating the pandemic and economic recovery, tackling long-term fiscal challenges, and doing so in a way that increases opportunity for all Americans. If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed, I would strive to be a strong partner to you in that work.
I have spent most of my professional career working on tax policy, and am passionate about its role in advancing shared prosperity and economic mobility. Tax revenues fund many of our critical social programs. Tax benefits can curtail or exacerbate our vast disparities by income, wealth, race, ethnicity, gender, and geography. At the same time, well-constructed and well-implemented tax policy can minimize gaming and distortions to business activity, while poorly constructed tax policy can do the reverse.
This is one of the things I love about tax policy: it is simultaneously about high-level values and about practical, highly technical details that create opportunities for working across the aisle.
There are many aspects of this position I look forward to if confirmed. I would hope to contribute to and advance President Biden’s policy agenda to further our economic recovery, build back better, promote racial and gender equity, and address the climate crisis. This would include working with you and your staffs to help make sure any agreements you reach are drafted in technically sound ways. I would also work to ensure that Treasury issues timely and sound guidance on tax issues that is consistent with Congressional intent and responsive to input from a broad range of stakeholders. Finally, I would strive to serve as a strong partner to the IRS on tax implementation and administration. This would include the exciting new programs they been tasked with implementing, like the fully refundable child credit, and also their ongoing duties, like taxpayer service. For many years, the IRS has been asked to undertake an immense and expanding set of responsibilities with, until recently, flat or declining funding. I would work to assist them in any ways Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy can, because we all benefit from a well-functioning IRS.
If confirmed, I am committed to engaging with you on a bipartisan basis. Over the course of my career, I have worked in the public, private, academic, and nonprofit sectors. These experiences have helped me to see tax policy from multiple perspectives, and have taught me how to work effectively and constructively with people who may hold different views than my own.
My family could not join me today because of the pandemic, which might be a good thing because our 15-month-old daughter Maia would probably be destroying the hearing room while waving to each of you if she were here. But she reminds me every day why public service is important—to make a better world for her, and even more so for all the children growing up without the financial security and other advantages that we are lucky to be able to provide her with.
I also want to thank my family, especially my partner Peter, my parents, brothers, and in-laws, for their love and support. Without that support, including their care for our daughter Maia, I wouldn’t be in a position to undertake the responsibilities associated with this role, which I take so seriously.
Thank you for considering my nomination, and I look forward to your questions.
Opening Statement of Benjamin Harris before the Senate Finance Committee
May 25, 2021
I would like to begin by thanking Chairman Wyden, Ranking Member Crapo, and all the Members of the Committee for considering my nomination. I would also like to express heartfelt gratitude to President Biden for his nomination and to Secretary Yellen for placing her trust in me to serve in this role.
Please allow me to also acknowledge my oldest daughter Lillian, seated behind me. As a father, I have tried to instill in my daughters a deep appreciation for the value of democracy, and it is a true privilege to invite Lily to witness the inner workings of our democratic system firsthand.
Seated here today, I suspect I share the same humility felt by many others before me. It is truly an honor to be considered as the successor to a storied group who have held this role previously, including economists of remarkable talent serving under both Republican and Democratic Administrations. Prior Assistant Secretaries for Economic Policy include Phill Swagel and Richard Clarida, now respectively CBO director and Vice Chair of the Fed, who held this role under President George W. Bush. Prior Assistant Secretaries also include Janice Eberly, Karen Dynan, and Alan Kruger—all of whom I have had the privilege to report to at some point in my career and all of whom I admire deeply. Should I be confirmed, I will strive to live up to the legacy set by these economists and others who have served in this role.
The Office of Economic Policy at the Treasury Department has earned a reputation for providing unbiased, high-quality empirical analysis to the Treasury Secretary and other policymakers. As an ardent supporter of evidence-based policy, I regard this approach as a critical step to making sound and effective policy. After roughly two decades spent working in the policy arena, one of the most important lessons I have learned is that good policy usually follows good analysis.
Indeed, I believe that a commitment to following the data and evidence should help lead our economic decision-making as we transition from the recession to recovery. In times of marked uncertainty, such as the current period, it is my view that embracing robust and timely analysis is the only way to get it right. I cannot tell you with certainty how our economy will emerge from this crisis, but I do know that we will better understand the challenges facing our country if we prioritize evidence and data.
If confirmed, I am eager to work with the members of this Committee and your staffs on a collaborative and bipartisan basis. As a former Hill staffer, I am well aware of the importance of cooperation between the executive and legislative branches, and understand that superior policy is a byproduct of robust collaboration and frequent communication. This preference for collaboration is further driven by my deep respect for this Committee, which regularly confronts some of the most vexing and important economic challenges facing our country. It is not lost on me that I have much to learn from the insight of this Committee’s Members and staff.
I would like to conclude by thanking my family—my wife Jessica and my daughters Lily, Juliette, and Annie---for their support and patience. Through my three prior stints in public service, they have learned that my desire to serve the American public comes at a cost to them, and I am grateful that they are willing to share my time with the U.S. Treasury Department.
Thank you for your consideration.