Senate approves Lew as new Treasury chief

WASHINGTON Wed Feb 27, 2013 6:40pm EST

1 of 2. Jack Lew, U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the Treasury Department, appears before a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington February 13, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Wednesday confirmed Jack Lew as President Barack Obama's new Treasury secretary, putting the former White House chief of staff in the middle of a bitter political fight over the government's budget.

Senators backed Lew with a 71-26 vote. All of the chamber's 53 Democrats voted for him. Some Republicans had expressed misgivings about Lew's perks from previous employers Citigroup and New York University.

Lew's most pressing task will be to find a compromise to lessen the economic blow from $85 billion in government spending cuts that are set to kick in on Friday.

But two more budget deadlines will quickly follow. Funds for most government operations expire on March 27, and the national debt will hit the U.S. government's borrowing limit on May 19, setting the stage for a default unless an agreement can be secured to raise the ceiling again.

Lew, who served as Obama's chief of staff before the president named him to succeed Timothy Geithner at the Treasury, has spent much of his career in Washington in public service.

He was previously White House budget director under both Obama and former President Bill Clinton.

By choosing him for the administration's top economic post, Obama signaled the importance he places on Washington's budget battles.

Now that he is confirmed, Lew is expected take the lead on difficult negotiations with Congress on how to trim U.S. budget deficits and keep a lid on $16.6 trillion U.S. national debt.

"If confirmed, we'll be entrusting Mr. Lew to oversee America's economic policy," said Senator Max Baucus, a Democrat who chairs the Finance Committee that vetted Lew for the job. "It is a great responsibility, one I believe Mr. Lew will live up to."

(Reporting by Anna Yukhananov and Rachelle Younglai; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (4)
Harry079 wrote:
You couldn’t have better Treasury Secretary than someone who got big bonuses for just being on a job, had or still has accounts in the tax haven Caymen Islands and was one of the main players behind the Sequester Bill.

Makes total sense to me.

Feb 27, 2013 1:10pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Andvari wrote:
The fox is in charge of the hen-house…again.

Feb 27, 2013 6:52pm EST  --  Report as abuse
yorksoo wrote:
Gee, that was fast! No obstructionist grandstanding on the part of the Republicans this time. Perhaps they are learning to play nicely in the sandbox after all.

Feb 27, 2013 7:06pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.