Lew moves closer to confirmation with Senate Finance vote
Nomination now goes to full Senate
Jack Lew came one step closer to Senate confirmation as President Barack Obama's second Treasury secretary when the Senate Finance Committee approved his nomination Tuesday.
His nomination now goes to the full Senate where he is expected to be easily confirmed -- especially compared to Obama's nominee for Defense secretary, former Sen. Chuck Hagel, who faced a Republican filibuster of his nomination
But that isn't to say Lew's ride through the committee was easy. He faced tough questions from Republicans about his leadership of a Citigroup bank unit which made bets against the housing market ahead of that sector's collapse, which drove the 2008 financial crisis, as well as an investment program for employees that he participated in and was based in the Cayman Islands. He has also come under scrutiny for receiving a $900,000 bonus while taxpayers were bailing out the bank, and a more recently reported bonus upon leaving New York University where he was executive vice president.
Lew has said he did not make investment decisions at Citigroup and that he paid all taxes on the investment, which he sold when leaving the company for a loss.
But Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican and one of Lew's dissenters, said "Mr. Lew is very good at getting paid by taxpayer supported institutions"
"Mr. Lew's eagerness and skill at obtaining bonuses, severance payments and perks raise questions about whether he appreciates who pays the bill," Grassley said.
The ranking Republican on the committee, Sen. Orrin Hatch, and three other Republicans - Sens. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Rob Portman of Ohio and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania - joined all 14 Democrats on the panel voting in favor of Lew. Five Republicans cast the only votes against Lew: Grassley, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Michael Enzi of Wyoming, and John Cornyn of Texas.
Lew, 57, was Obama's chief of staff for approximately a year and was nominated in January to succeed Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
His nomination heads to the floor as Congress and the White House are staring down forced federal spending cuts which kick in at the end of the week. There appears to be little chance of passing a plan before then to avert them, and each side is placing the blame squarely on the other.
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