Senate committee OKs Lew for Treasury chief
AFPWASHINGTON--The U.S. Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday approved President Barack Obama's nominee Jack Lew to be the new Treasury secretary, replacing Timothy Geithner who stepped down last month.
February 28, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
Senators voted 19-5 in favor of Lew, with several Republicans joining with the majority Democrats. The committee approval paves the way for a full Senate vote as early as Wednesday.
With Republicans embroiled in a showdown with the White House over the country's massive debt, the Lew confirmation process ran the risk of being caught up in debate over the looming budget cuts, which could ultimately cost hundreds of thousands of American jobs if Congress fails to act.
But the nomination of Lew, a former Citigroup executive who most recently served as Obama's chief of staff and participated in the budget negotiations of 2011, appears to have ducked such turmoil.
The committee's ranking Republican Orrin Hatch ended up voting for him despite “serious reservations.”
“I believe the president is owed a fair amount of deference in choosing people to work in his administration and, though I would have chosen a different person for this particular post, I intend to defer to President Obama with regard to the Lew nomination,” Hatch said.
Hatch sought clarification from Lew on more than 60 questions ahead of the vote, including his positions on China's currency and whether the White House ought to engage in serious reform of entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid.