Banking panel approves long-stalled Treasury nomination

The Senate Banking Committee on Thursday approved the long-stalled nomination of Adam Szubin to a key Treasury Department post responsible for leading the battle against terrorism and financial crimes.

The committee's chairman, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., had delayed action on Szubin's and all other nominations before his panel, stubbornly refusing to act until winning his re-election primary last week. It's the panel's first confirmation vote since Republicans regained control of the chamber last year.

The committee approved Szubin's nomination on a 14-8 vote that reflected sweeping GOP opposition to President Barack Obama's controversial nuclear deal with Iran, which involves the lifting of sanctions on the longtime U.S. adversary.

"I think he's a nice man, and he's obviously well-educated and qualified for a lot of jobs, probably that," Shelby said after the vote. "But the policies he'd have to carry out, a lot of us oppose them."

In a subsequent statement, Shelby added: "Mr. Szubin's role at the Treasury Department has required him to both promote and defend the administration's ill-conceived Iran nuclear agreement. I could not support his nomination today because of his participation in facilitating a deal that I believe is crippling to our national security."

The panel appears likely to act soon to fill vacancies on the Securities and Exchange Commission and approve a new director of the U.S. Mint. But a key appointee to the Export-Import Bank remains stuck, leaving the bank unable to approve larger financial transactions.

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, senior Democrat on the committee, said the panel has acted on just one of its 19 nominees. "I'm hopeful we'll move on a lot more than these. I hope we'll do Ex-Im."

The opposition to Szubin's nomination could spell trouble for speedy action by the full Senate, since any individual senator could delay a vote.

Szubin, who has served under both President Barack Obama and predecessor George W. Bush, has been in the anti-terror job in an acting capacity.