WASHINGTON DC (February 5, 2020) — Prepared opening statement by Senator Charles "Chuck" Grassley, Chairman, Senate Finance Committee hearing on nominations:

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Today, the Finance Committee will hear from three nominees. We will hear from a nominee to be an Assistant Secretary at the Department of the Treasury, a nominee to be an Assistant Secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services and a nominee to the Social Security Advisory Board.

First we will hear from Kipp Kranbuhl, nominated to be Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Markets. This position is responsible for federal debt-management, and essentially works to finance the federal government. Though this position certainly does not set federal fiscal policy, which is done by Congress, it carries out the day-to-day operations to keep the government funded so it may carry out all of the programs our constituents depend on.

Next, we will hear from Sarah Arbes, who is nominated to be Assistant Secretary for Legislation at the Department of Health and Human Services. Arbes has been Acting Assistant Secretary for Legislation for the past eight months, so I’m pleased we are working to confirm her for this important position. Senators on this Committee and their offices are likely familiar with Arbes as she was the Deputy ASL prior to her serving in the Acting capacity. I have greatly appreciated her assistance on efforts to lower prescription-drug costs and on other issues. I know we are working through problems with HHS regarding its responses to written inquires and requests from myself and other Senators on this Committee. I appreciate those efforts, and I am pleased that the Committee finally seems to be receiving some digital productions on very longstanding requests. However, I have been frustrated by the pace of these negotiations and that certain productions so far have been provided multiple times in an unusable format. I look forward to resolving this issue quickly and hope our staffs can continue a productive dialogue. I have long held that the Department must be responsive to Congressional inquiries, and I ask that Arbes focus on ensuring prompt, meaningful, and efficient responses. I also note that while the ASL serves as top advisor to the Secretary on legislative matters, the position is not directly responsible for regulations issued by the Department or its agencies. I ask Senators to keep that in mind as we conduct this hearing.

Finally, we will hear from Jason Fichtner, nominated to the Social Security Advisory Board. Created as a “bipartisan, independent, federal-government agency established in 1994 to advise the President, the Congress, and the Commissioner of Social Security on matters of policy and administration,” the Social Security Advisory Board is comprised of 7 members. Dr Fichtner is one of the three that are appointed by the president.

Thank you all for your willingness to serve and for your testimony here today.

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