Orthodox Jew Jack Lew Clears First Treasury Secretary Hurdle

The Senate Finance Committee approved the nomination of Jack Lew to be Treasury secretary on Tuesday, paving the way for a full Senate vote.

The nomination was approved by the committee on a 19-5 vote.

Senate leaders have not yet scheduled a vote by the full Senate, but Lew is not expected to face the same heavy Republican opposition as more controversial nominees, such as Obama's pick for Defense secretary, Chuck Hagel.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, the panel’s top Republican, voted in favor of Lew while saying he has concerns about the nominee.

“Though I would have chosen a different person for this particular post, I intend to defer to President [Barack] Obama with regard to the Lew nomination,” the Utah senator said.

Hatch said he still has reservations about Lew’s time at New York University and Citigroup and that he will continue to discuss those concerns when the nomination comes to the Senate floor for a vote.

The other Republicans to vote in favor of Lew’s nomination were Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Pat Toomey (Pa.) and John Thune (S.D.)

Lew, who has been confirmed by the Senate three times and served most recently as Obama's chief of staff, is well-known to most members of the Senate and has been gathering strong support from both Democrats and Republicans in recent weeks.

The nomination process hit a speed bump early this month when Republicans flagged an investment Lew made in an employee fund located in the Cayman Islands when he worked as chief operating officer of a Citigroup unit.

At his confirmation hearing, Lew said he was unaware of the location of the fund and paid all taxes when he divested in 2010. Committee members also grilled Lew on the deficit-reduction plan of spending cuts and revenue increases that he helped craft and his plans for tax reform.


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