Obama double win as Lew confirmed for Treasury post
WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff Jack Lew was confirmed Wednesday as the next US Treasury secretary, taking over a key portfolio at a time of deadlock over the budget and debt.
The US Senate voted 71-26 – with support from 20 Republicans – to confirm Lew, a former White House budget director and Wall Street executive, providing Obama with a second new cabinet appointment approval in as many days.
A day earlier, the chamber voted to confirm Chuck Hagel to head the Pentagon, after a contentious, seven-week process.
While Hagel’s confirmation was marked by partisan acrimony and delays, Lew’s nomination sailed through, and the president issued a swift thanks to the Senate for its bipartisan action.
“At this critical time for our economy and our country, there is no one more qualified for this position than Jack,” Obama said in a statement.
“As my chief of staff, Jack was by my side as we confronted our nation’s toughest challenges,” the president said, hailing Lew as “a master of fiscal issues who can work with leaders on both sides of the aisle.”
“I will continue to rely on his advice and sound judgment as we work to create good, middle-class jobs.”
Lew, expected to be sworn in early Thursday, replaces Timothy Geithner, who steered the Obama administration through the financial crisis.
The White House is now locked in a new showdown, this time with Republican lawmakers over how to avoid some $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts that are set to kick in from Friday.