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
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
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.

What We're Following See More »
U.S. May House 20K Immigrants on Military Bases
1 days ago

"The United States is preparing to shelter as many as 20,000 migrant children on four American military bases" in Texas and Arkansas, "as federal officials struggled to carry out President Trump’s order to keep immigrant families together after they are apprehended at the border."

Vote on Compromise Immigration Bill Gets Bumped to Next Week
1 days ago

"House Republican leaders are further delaying a vote on a compromise immigration bill, planning to make changes to the legislation for a vote next week. The news comes after a two-hour Republican Conference meeting Thursday, in which authors of the bill walked through its contents and members raised concerns about issues the bill doesn’t address, multiple GOP lawmakers said. Many members requested the addition of a provision to require employers to use the E-Verify database to cheek the legal status of their employees."

Conservative Immigration Bill Goes Down to Defeat
2 days ago

After a conservative-backed immigration bill failed in the House, 193-231, leaders "postponed a vote on a 'compromise' immigration proposal until Friday. ... GOP leaders, however, are under no impression that they'll be able to secure the 218 votes needed in the next 24 hours to pass the text. Rather, the delay is to give members more time to read the bill."

Immigration Votes May Get Delayed Until Friday
2 days ago
Prosecutions of Families with Children at Border to Cease
2 days ago

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.