Senate confirmation hearings for undersecretaries rarely make headline news. However, for Boro Park’s Orthodox community to see one of its own on the cusp of being elevated to one of the Treasury’s most senior positions is certainly a development of note.
Moyshe (Mitchell) Silk – after a long and successful career as a corporate lawyer specializing in energy, infrastructure and China – joined the Treasury Department’s Office of International Affairs in 2017. Since then, he has spent a much time trotting the globe in an effort to represent and promote U.S. financial interests abroad.
Readers might recall that shortly after his initial appointment, a Hamodia feature offered a sketch of Mr. Silk’s unique life story as, most likely, the world’s only Nadvorna chassid to hold such a portfolio of expertise.
This past week, he appeared before the Senate committee for Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. That committee currently is weighing President Donald Trump’s nomination that Mr. Silk be formally installed as Assistant Secretary for International Markets and Development.
The committee’s Chairman, Mike Crapo (R-ID), offered brief words of introduction for Mr. Silk, noting that he has “served with distinction” and been a “key voice in trade negotiations energy and infrastructure finance, export credit and financial services.”
He also noted Mr. Silk’s fluency in both Mandarin and Cantonese. These language skills have overlapped with the Senator’s initial sketch of Mr. Silk’s work for the administration, as he has been among the negotiators at talks with China throughout the ongoing “trade war.”
“Our main goals have been to focus on continued growth and stability in global markets and to create opportunities that will benefit U.S. taxpayers, workers and corporations,” Mr. Silk told Hamodia in describing the focus of his office. “One key area of success that we have had is in promoting U.S. interests in energy and infrastructure in Latin America and Asia…we are in the process of making partnerships with 19 different countries that further U.S. growth interests and will benefit U.S. trade.”
International business is hardly something new to Mr. Silk. He spent 13 years living in Hong Kong. and even after returning to the States, spent a great deal of time working with and traveling to east Asia.
Mr. Silk has actually been serving as Assistant Secretary since the summer. when Heath Tarbert, who occupied the post until then, was chosen to be Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
The elevation completes a circle of sorts, as both men worked as attorneys at the firm of Allen and Overy and Mr. Tarbert’s position on the Trump transition team played a key role in Mr. Silk’s initial appointment to the Treasury.
After a time-consuming vetting process, President Trump formally submitted Mr. Silk’s nomination to the Senate in September. In a sign of the degree of backlog in confirming administration appointments, the hearing grouped together four other appointees, mostly for positions at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
During the hearing, HUD officials were the focus of the Senate panel’s questioning, but Mr. Silk is now in the process of responding to written queries from the offices of several senators.
In addition to reviewing his work at Treasury and his future goals, Mr. Silk’s opening statement to the panel made ample mention of his family members, several of whom were present, and he prominently mentioned his pride in his grandparents’ struggles.
Since his appointment to the Treasury, Mr. Silk has spent most of his week in Washington, commuting back when possible to spend Shabbos in Boro Park.
While there is no set timetable, it is likely that the committee will vote on his appointment in the coming weeks and it may be put up for a final vote in the full Senate before the year-end recess.