Senate confirms Jack Lew as U.S. Treasury secretary

Jack Lew

Jack Lew

In a 71-26 vote on Wednesday, the Senate confirmed Jack Lew, President Obama’s former White House chief of staff, to succeed Timothy Geithner as secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Lew, who oversaw a surplus as director of the Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton administration and helped pass bipartisan Social Security reform during the Reagan administration, is expected to participate in budget talks over the next month, according to The Washington Post.

“Mr. Lew is well-qualified to be the nation’s next Treasury secretary,” Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said, The Washington Post reports.

During his confirmation hearing, Lew did not indicate a move towards major fiscal policy changes but said he would be open to Medicare reform, though he did not include details. Lew also said that he would work with the committee to reform the tax code.

Additionally, Lew is expected to largely follow Geithner’s position on the European debt crisis, defense of the controversial Dodd-Frank Act and the U.S. economic relationship with China, according to The Washington Post.

Some members of Congress who opposed Lew’s nomination said that they were unsatisfied with his answers regarding his previous stint as COO for an investment unit of Citigroup in 2008. The division has been criticized for its risky investments leading up to the financial crisis. Lew took close to a $1 million bonus in early 2009, when Citi was in the middle of a taxpayer-funded bailout.

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