‘I will be independent’: Senate votes 51-40 to confirm Trump’s pick as coronavirus relief watchdog

The U.S. Senate has confirmed a White House attorney to oversee the coronavirus recovery.

In a vote almost entirely along party lines, senators confirmed Brian Miller to the special inspector general post, giving him watchdog authority over the U.S. Department of Treasury’s coronavirus relief fund, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“Capable of acting independently”

Miller’s oversight responsibilities will include roughly $500 billion in spending, about $454 billion of which has been set aside to support lending programs within the Federal Reserve. The rest is allocated for loans to airlines and certain other critical industries.

According to The Hill, this fund was established as part of the landmark $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, which became the largest stimulus bill in U.S. history when it passed earlier this year.

While he was approved by a 51–40 margin, Miller’s confirmation hearing put him on the receiving end of criticism by Democrats on the Senate banking committee who were skeptical about his ability to remain impartial after serving as White House counsel.

Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) became the only member of his party to vote with the GOP in confirming Miller.

“Now that he has been confirmed…Mr. Miller must show Congress and the American people that he is capable of acting independently from the administration,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) warned following the vote, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“If the president removes me, he removes me”

Miller, who has also served as inspector general of the General Services Administration, vowed that he would “faithfully and independently” perform his duties if confirmed.

“I will be independent,” he said, according to The Hill. “If the president removes me, he removes me. If I am unable to do my job, I will resign.”

Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, are meanwhile continuing to press for another wide-ranging relief bill. But according to CNBC, Republicans on Friday distanced themselves from such plans when better-than-expected employment numbers were announced.

“The president must join us to support real action to protect lives and livelihoods, rather than hide behind these jobs numbers and pretend that the job is done,” Pelosi insisted, according to CNBC.

Miller’s confirmation is a win for the Trump administration even as America continues to reopen from months of coronavirus-related shutdowns. As more Americans get back to work, it seems the president might be on course for his promised “transition to greatness” after all.

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