Democratic Congresswoman Katie Porter accused Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin of “play-acting to be a lawyer” during a heated exchange at a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday.
Late last month, it was reported that Mnuchin move $455 billion in COVID-19 relief from the Federal Reserve back into the Treasury’s General Fund, a move that would make it harder for his successor, appointed by President-elect Biden, to access the money.
Under the CARES Act, any remaining funds may be moved to the Treasury only “on or after January 1, 2026,” Porter noted.
“Secretary Mnuchin, is it currently the year 2026, yes or no?,” Rep. Porter asked.
Mnuchin dodged the question and started to go off topic.
“Secretary Mnuchin, reclaiming my time,” Porter interrupted.
You’re putting words in my mouth that are not correct,” Mnuchin said.
Porter then repeated her question. “Of course its not 2026,” Mnuchin responded. “How ridiculous to ask me that question to waste our time.”
“Well Secretary Mnuchin I think it’s ridiculous that you’re play acting to be a lawyer when you have no legal degree,” Porter said.
Mnuchin explained that he has lawyers advising him at the Treasury Department.
“Secretary Mnuchin are you in fact a lawyer,” Porter asked.
“I don’t have a legal degree,” Mnuchin answered. “I have lawyers that report to me.”
Porter then ask Fed Chair Jerome Powell if he is a lawyer. Powell, who previously practiced law and holds a legal degree from Georgetown University, confirmed he was a lawyer.
“So Secretary Mnuchin you are trying to tell Chairman Powell to send over any remaining funds right now and you’re claiming falsely in my opinion that that is what the law says and you’ve gotten into a disagreement with someone who is actually a lawyer—“
“Are you a lawyer?” Mnuchin asked, interrupting Porter.
Porter is in fact a lawyer. She has a law degree from Harvard and serves as a law professor at the University of California, Irvine.
According to The Hill, the amount to be returned to the Treasury’s general fund was part of a $500 billion allocation in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act that Trump signed into law in late March.