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Finance Panel Sets Lew Confirmation Vote for Tuesday

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo

The Senate Finance Committee scheduled a vote for Tuesday on Jacob J. Lew’s nomination to succeed Timothy F. Geithner as Treasury secretary.

Lew is expected to easily win the panel’s backing despite questions about his investments and criticism from some Republicans about his role in budget negotiations, clearing the way for confirmation by the full Senate in the following days.

A committee news release from Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said the vote follows “a thorough review of Lew by the committee, in which he answered extensive questions in a thorough and fully transparent manner.”

Republican senators grilled Lew at a Feb. 13 hearing over the administration’s fiscal policies as well as his personal finances. But the outgoing White House chief of staff under President Barack Obama and former budget director for President Bill Clinton emerged relatively unscathed.

“Frankly, I think you’ve done really well today,” Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the panel’s top Republican, told Lew at the end of the three-hour hearing.

Lew endured sharp criticism from GOP senators over an investment he held from 2007 to 2010 in a venture capital fund based at a site in the Cayman Islands as well as a generous compensation package he took as a senior official at Citigroup, which received a $45 billion federal bailout during the 2008 financial crisis.

Since the hearing, Sen. Charles E. Grassley, has criticized Lew for not providing adequate detail or documents about a loan he received from New York University when he was its chief operating officer.

So far, the only senators to announce their opposition to the nomination are Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions and Vermont Independent Bernard Sanders. Sessions accuses Lew of having misled the Senate in his presentation of Obama’s budget. Sanders fears Lew is too closely associated with Wall Street.

Despite the jabs, Lew’s confirmation process has been far less contentious than those of other administration nominees this year, including Chuck Hagel to lead the Department of Defense and John Brennan to head the CIA.

Lew likely will receive the backing of most Democrats as well as many Republicans who are willing to give wide deference to the president in picking his Cabinet.

Also on Tuesday, the panel will vote on the nominations of William Schultz to be general counsel of the Department of Health and Human Services and Christopher Meade to be Treasury’s general counsel. The committee held hearings on those nominations in December.

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