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Mnuchin, Shulkin confirmed by Senate as treasury, VA chiefs

By Doug G. Ware
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Mnuchin, Shulkin confirmed by Senate as treasury, VA chiefs
President Donald Trump looks over the shoulder of Treasury Secretary Steven Munchin as he is sworn in during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Monday. Mnuchin was confirmed by the Senate 53-47 earlier today. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Two of President Donald Trump's Cabinet appointees received full Senate confirmation late Monday -- one in a landslide, and the other by two votes.

The Senate narrowly confirmedSteven T. Mnuchin as the 77th U.S. treasury chief with a vote of 53-47. Vice President Mike Pence gave him the oath of office Monday night.

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With 100 members in the Senate, 51 votes are needed for confirmation. The only Democrat to vote for Mnuchin was West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.

A former Wall Street manager and Hollywood film financier, Mnuchin was opposed by some Democrats and heavily questioned by the Senate Finance Committee last month over his buying a mortgage lender from the federal government that some critics say was a "foreclosure machine."

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During the financial crisis in 2009, Mnuchin bought subprime lender IndyMac from the government and turned it into a bank that modified tens of thousands of troubled home loans -- and foreclosed on many properties. The venture was highly profitable.

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"It has been said that I ran a 'foreclosure machine.' This is not true," he told the panel. "On the contrary, I was committed to loan modifications intended to stop foreclosures. I ran a 'loan modification machine.'"

A billionaire, Mnuchin was also questioned about potential tax shelters he ran in the Caribbean -- an allegation the treasury appointee denied.

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Like Trump's last four nominees -- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (confirmed by a vote of 56-43), Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (51-50), Attorney General Jeff Sessions (52-47), and Health Secretary Tom Price (52-47) -- Mnuchin was narrowly approved along party lines.

Mnuchin takes over the Treasury from Jack Lew, who served under former President Barack Obama for four years.

A short time later, Dr. David J. Shulkin was easily approved -- by a unanimous vote of 100-0 -- as the 9th U.S. secretary of Veterans Affairs.

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Shulkin will take his oath Tuesday afternoon, the White House said.

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