White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew has been nominated to serve as the country’s next Treasury Secretary. But before he has even set foot in Capitol Hill to testify, some lawmakers are already coming out against his confirmation.
Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, said that Lew “must never be secretary of Treasury.”
Sessions’s complaints about the presumed nominee center on comments Lew made when serving as President Obama’s budget director: “Our budget will get us, over the next several years, to the point where we can look the American people in the eye and say we're not adding to the debt anymore; we're spending money that we have each year, and then we can work on bringing down our national debt,” he cites Lew as saying.
Sessions called the remarks “the most direct and important false assertion during my entire time in Washington,” according to a statement.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, will also oppose Lew, but for very different reasons.
“As a supporter of the president, I remain extremely concerned that virtually all of his key economic advisers have come from Wall Street. In my view, we need a treasury secretary who is prepared to stand up to corporate America and their powerful lobbyists and fight for policies that protect the working families in our country. I do not believe Mr. Lew is that person," Sanders said in a statement. Although Lew has a Washington-heavy resume, he also served as chief operating officer of one of Citigroup's investment units.
Other GOP senators contacted by National Journal were noncommital. A spokeswoman for Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said, “I don’t think he’s saying one way or the other at this point.” Grassley would prefer the nominee be vetted by the Senate Finance Committee first, said spokeswoman Jill Gerber.