Mnuchin defends Treasury regulations on GOP tax law

Mnuchin defends Treasury regulations on GOP tax law
© Greg Nash

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTrump eyes additional funds for small businesses impacted by pandemic Decentralized leadership raises questions about Trump coronavirus response Progressive group knocks McConnell for talking judicial picks during coronavirus MORE on Wednesday defended his department's regulations implementing provisions of President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor NBA to contribute 1 million surgical masks to NY essential workers Private equity firm with ties to Kushner asks Trump administration to relax rules on loan program: report MORE's tax cut law, which Democrats argue have been overly beneficial for corporations.

“Our job is to implement the legislation, not to make the legislation,” Mnuchin said at a Senate Finance Committee hearing.

Democrats and Republicans have long been fighting over Trump's 2017 law, which received no Democratic votes. In recent weeks, a key issue in the messaging battle over the law has been over regulations implementing the measure's international provisions, following a New York Times article about corporate lobbying on the rules.

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Democrats argue that Treasury guidance has been too generous for corporations following businesses' lobbying efforts, and may have exceeded the Treasury Department's legal authority.

Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats ask EPA, Interior to pause rulemaking amid coronavirus Democrats say more unemployment benefits needed in wake of record unemployment claims Democrats fear coronavirus impact on November turnout MORE (Ore.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownDemocrats urge administration to automatically issue coronavirus checks to more people Lawmakers press IRS to get coronavirus checks to seniors Democrats press Mnuchin to defend T coronavirus stimulus IG MORE (Ohio) — the top Democrats on the Senate Finance and Banking committees, respectively — introduced legislation on Wednesday to block a regulatory proposal relating to one of the tax law's international provisions. Wyden described the proposal in a news release as a "proposed giveaway that essentially allows corporations to choose the lowest available tax rate."

But Mnuchin said that Treasury's decisions about tax law regulations have been based on legislative intent rather than corporate lobbyists.

"On a regular basis, we meet with lots of people to take in input. We've reached out to the committee and its staff," he said.

GOP senators also defended the Treasury's regulations on the tax law.

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Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyBurr says intelligence watchdog should be 'independent' after inspector general firing Lawmakers press IRS to get coronavirus checks to seniors Pelosi floats undoing SALT deduction cap in next coronavirus bill MORE (R-Iowa) said that it's part of the regulatory process under the Administrative Procedure Act for the agency to seek comment from stakeholders.

"I don't see how you can do your job of implementing new law that is so far-reaching without listening to stakeholders," he said.

Grassley added that "the business community certainly doesn't seem to think that they've received everything for which they've asked."

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGOP senator to donate 2 months of salary in coronavirus fight Senators pen op-ed calling for remote voting amid coronavirus pandemic Some Democrats growing antsy as Senate talks drag on MORE (R-Ohio) said that if anything, Treasury's approach has been "very conservative" with respect to the rule Brown and Wyden are targeting in their bill.

“Our job has been to implement that part of the tax code consistent with the intent and as prescribed by the law and that’s what we’ve done," Mnuchin said in response to a question from Portman.

A U.S. Chamber of Commerce official said in a statement Wednesday that the group opposes Wyden and Brown's bill because it seeks to remove Treasury's authority to implement a regulation that ensures that the tax law works as Congress intended.

Wyden said Democrats' feedback wasn't sought on the tax "loopholes" they find problematic.

"I would have been fighting them every step of the way," he said.