Special Report: Senate Finance Committee

Meet the Finance Committee’s Minority Staff

What do a Deadhead, a Shakespeare scholar and a beer homebrewer have in common? They’re all on Sen. Ron Wyden’s panel roster.

Fawn Johnson
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Fawn Johnson
March 25, 2015, 5:30 p.m.

Joshua Sheink­man, Minor­ity Staff Dir­ect­or

Sheink­man listens to the Grate­ful Dead on his morn­ing com­mute to make sure he stays mel­low at the of­fice. It’s a good habit, con­sid­er­ing that he sees tax re­form as his most ex­cit­ing pro­ject this year. That re­quires an ap­pre­ci­ation for the long haul. “My first pro­ject when Sen­at­or [Ron] Wyden tapped me to be his tax coun­sel in 2005 was to write a tax re­form bill. It would be a ca­reer high­light to get tax re­form en­acted after 10 years of work­ing to­ward that goal,” he says.

In­deed, Sheink­man’s en­tire Cap­it­ol Hill ca­reer has been with Wyden. He was Wyden’s le­gis­lat­ive dir­ect­or for sev­en years and has been ma­jor­ity staff dir­ect­or on two Sen­ate com­mit­tees un­der Wyden—in the En­ergy and Nat­ur­al Re­sources Com­mit­tee in 2013, then in the Fin­ance Com­mit­tee last year, when Max Baucus resigned as chair­man to be­come am­bas­sad­or to China. Now that Demo­crats are in the minor­ity, he says his main job is to en­sure that Wyden and oth­er com­mit­tee Demo­crats’ pri­or­it­ies are re­flec­ted in the pan­el’s activ­it­ies.

Sheink­man was a law­yer be­fore he was a staffer. He worked for five years as an at­tor­ney after he earned his law de­gree at the New York Uni­versity School of Law. On his Linked­In page he de­scribes those years this way, “Fo­cus­ing on en­vir­on­ment­al is­sues, my law ca­reer tracked the eco­nomy—I began work­ing on deals and ended up work­ing on bank­ruptcy cases.” He has a bach­el­or’s de­gree in his­tory and lit­er­at­ure from Har­vard Uni­versity, and a law de­gree from New York Uni­versity School of Law.

Jocelyn Moore, Minor­ity Deputy Staff Dir­ect­or

Moore wanted to work on the Fin­ance Com­mit­tee long be­fore she be­came an of­fi­cial staffer there. She star­ted her ca­reer on Cap­it­ol Hill in 2000, work­ing for her home-state sen­at­or, Zell Miller of Geor­gia. She moved on to the per­son­al of­fice of Sen. Bob Gra­ham of Flor­ida, then spent the next nine years work­ing in vari­ous ca­pa­cit­ies for Sen. Jay Rock­e­feller of West Vir­gin­ia, in­clud­ing as le­gis­lat­ive dir­ect­or and staff dir­ect­or of the Fin­ance Health Sub­com­mit­tee. She is a key ar­chi­tect of many of the pro­vi­sions of the Af­ford­able Care Act. It was in that job that she de­veloped long-stand­ing re­la­tion­ships with Sen. Or­rin Hatch’s staff as Rock­e­feller and Hatch worked to reau­thor­ize the State Chil­dren’s Health In­sur­ance Pro­gram.

Wyden asked Moore to be the deputy chief of staff in his per­son­al of­fice when Rock­e­feller an­nounced his re­tire­ment in 2013. From there, she be­came the com­mit­tee’s deputy staff dir­ect­or for the Demo­crats when Wyden be­came chair­man. She dabbles in all the is­sues fa­cing the com­mit­tee, which she rattles off thusly: “Trade, tax re­form, Medi­care phys­i­cian pay­ment, Chil­dren’s Health In­sur­ance Pro­gram fund­ing, trans­port­a­tion fund­ing, and Fin­ance-re­lated pro­vi­sions in the up­com­ing budget res­ol­u­tion.”

She has a bach­el­or’s de­gree and a Mas­ter’s of Edu­ca­tion from the Uni­versity of Flor­ida. She de­scribes her­self as “a proud Flor­ida Gat­or and an am­a­teur art col­lect­or.”

Mi­chael Evans, Minor­ity Chief Coun­sel

Evans came up with per­haps the most in­nov­at­ive way to com­bine his two loves—Shakespeare and taxes. His com­ment­ary ” Shakespeare’s Guide to Tax Policy” was pub­lished in the trade pub­lic­a­tion Tax Notes in 2009. In it, he ac­know­ledges that read­ers must look care­fully at the Bard for tax guid­ance, lest they miss it. “To most people (read­ers of Tax Notes ex­cep­ted), tax policy does not pack the same dra­mat­ic punch as, say, murder, civil war, or tra­gic­ally doomed ro­mance.”

These days, Evans says he is im­mersed in the Fin­ance Com­mit­tee’s mul­tiple aren­as of taxes and trade. His job is to pre­pare the com­mit­tee for markups and floor de­bates, and as­sist oth­er seni­or aides on strategy and policy. He had been work­ing in private prac­tice for more than 10 years when Wyden asked him in 2014 to come back to the Sen­ate as the Ore­gon sen­at­or was as­sum­ing the com­mit­tee chair­man­ship.

Evans cer­tainly knows the com­mit­tee. He star­ted as tax coun­sel for Baucus in 1983 and stayed on Cap­it­ol Hill for al­most 20 years. “Giv­en my age and ten­ure, I prob­ably also serve in the role of ‘des­ig­nated grey-haired guy’ on this young and highly tal­en­ted staff,” he said.

He has a bach­el­or’s de­gree from Salem State Col­lege and a law de­gree from Har­vard Uni­versity.

Todd Met­calf, Minor­ity Chief Tax Coun­sel

Met­calf likes to re­lax on week­ends by binge-watch­ing Brit­ish de­tect­ive shows. His says his fa­vor­ites are “Poirot, Miss Jane Marple, Foyle’s War, In­spect­or Gently.” And this comes after a hard morn­ing of read­ing bio­graph­ies and “of course, art­icles about tax policy.”

Tax re­form looms large in Met­calf’s mind. He says he both fears and looks for­ward to re­vamp­ing the tax code this year. “As we learned in the wake of 1986, it is pos­sible—maybe even likely—to get something wrong, which can have ser­i­ous eco­nom­ic con­sequences. So it’s scary,” he said.

Still, Met­calf echoes al­most every tax ex­pert in the coun­try when he says the con­sequences of do­ing noth­ing are far scar­i­er. He ex­presses this concept with lit­er­ary aplomb. “The mo­ment for ac­tion is upon us. We just have to hope that Pliny the Eld­er was right when he said, ‘For­tune fa­vors the bold.’”

Met­calf has spent more than half of his Cap­it­ol Hill ca­reer in the House, start­ing as le­gis­lat­ive coun­sel to Rep. Max Sand­lin of Texas and even­tu­ally run­ning floor op­er­a­tions for House Demo­crat­ic Whip James Cly­burn of South Car­o­lina. His job now is a weighty one—try­ing to bal­ance the Demo­crat­ic com­mit­tee mem­bers’ tax pri­or­it­ies with those of the Re­pub­lic­an side to come up with a bi­par­tis­an over­haul. That means go­ing to a lot of meet­ings, where he says lots of good ideas are get­ting bounced around by staff. He has a bach­el­or’s de­gree from the Uni­versity of Ten­ness­ee at Knoxville and a law de­gree from Wash­ing­ton Uni­versity in St. Louis.

Eliza­beth Jurinka, Minor­ity Chief Health Policy Ad­visor

Jurinka wanted to pur­sue a ca­reer in mu­sic­al theat­er, but Steny Hoy­er con­vinced her oth­er­wise. She was in col­lege at the Uni­versity of Mary­land when she got an in­tern­ship with the House Minor­ity Whip. “That ex­per­i­ence was all the con­vin­cing I needed that Con­gress was a bet­ter fit for me than 42nd Street,” she said. She star­ted her Cap­it­ol Hill ca­reer in 2006 as staff as­sist­ant to Rep. Melissa Bean of Illinois.

Jurinka jumped right in­to the fray with the multi-year health care saga that con­cluded with pas­sage of the Af­ford­able Care Act. She earned her mas­ter’s de­gree in gov­ern­ment from Johns Hop­kins Uni­versity at the same time. She joined Wyden’s staff in 2011 and be­came the com­mit­tee’s chief policy ad­visor for health care last year, when Wyden took the com­mit­tee gavel. She over­sees all things health care for the Demo­crats—Medi­care, Medi­caid, and the ACA. “I’m happy to say there is nev­er a dull mo­ment,” she says.

She cer­tainly ap­pre­ci­ates the ag­ri­cul­tur­al pro­cliv­it­ies of her boss’s home state. “There’s noth­ing I love more than open­ing a great Ore­gon pinot with my hus­band, and pre­par­ing a de­li­cious spread for friends and fam­ily to­geth­er.”

Jay­me White, Minor­ity Chief Ad­viser for In­ter­na­tion­al Com­pet­it­ive­ness and In­nov­a­tion

White only planned on stay­ing in Wash­ing­ton for a year or two when he star­ted work­ing for his ho­met­own Rep. Jim Mc­Der­mott of Wash­ing­ton state in 2000. Be­fore that job, he helped run a small in­de­pend­ent re­cord la­bel in Seattle and thought he would wind up in New York or Los Angeles. He thinks back on those times and won­ders, “Who knew that Con­gress could be so “… fun?”

White stayed with Mc­Der­mott for nine years be­fore mov­ing to the Sen­ate. He be­came the staff dir­ect­or for the Fin­ance Com­mit­tee’s sub­com­mit­tee on in­ter­na­tion­al trade in 2009, where Wyden was the top Demo­crat. He plays dual roles now on the Fin­ance Com­mit­tee, help­ing to ad­vance the Demo­crats’ trade pri­or­it­ies and also pro­mot­ing the di­git­al eco­nomy. “The trade agenda is really am­bi­tious. From the trade ne­go­ti­ations un­der­way to the re­new­al of im­port­ant trade laws, there is no short­age of in­ter­est­ing and chal­len­ging work,” he says.

But, that’s not all on his mind. He is act­ive in lots of hob­bies, in­clud­ing camp­ing and hik­ing with his dogs, and brew­ing his own beer. A true Cap­it­ol Hill in­sider, he named one of his fa­vor­ite home brews “The Nuc­le­ar Op­tion.” He has a bach­el­or’s de­gree and a Mas­ter’s of Pub­lic Policy from Geor­getown Uni­versity.

COR­REC­TION: The ori­gin­al ver­sion of this art­icle mis­stated how long Jocelyn Moore worked for Sen. Jay Rock­e­feller.

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