President Barack Obama officially announced Thursday that he intends to nominate White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew to be the next Treasury Secretary.
If confirmed, Lew would replace current Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who Obama noted was the first nominee to his Cabinet.
Delivering remarks in the East Room of the White House, Obama noted Geithner's efforts to help the economy recover from the financial crisis and predicted he would go down in history as one of the finest Secretaries of the Treasury.
"The fact is, while a lot of work remains, especially to rebuild a strong middle class and offer working folks new pathways to rise into the middle class, our economy is better positioned for tomorrow than most of those other countries hit by the financial crisis," Obama said. "The tough decisions Tim made and carried out deserve a lot of credit for that."
Geithner, who was president of the New York Federal Reserve before being tapped for Obama's cabinet, was widely seen as a necessary choice to help the president address the country's economic downturn as well as fiscal crises around the globe.
Lew, however, has far more experience in legislative and budgetary affairs, having served as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget under former President Bill Clinton before again assuming that post in 2010 under Obama.
Obama said the decision to nominate Lew is "bittersweet," noting his work as White House Chief of Staff, but said, "My loss will be the nation's gain."
"As the son of a Polish immigrant, a man of deep and devout faith, Jack knows that every number on a page, every dollar we budget, every decision we make has to be an expression of who we wish to be as a nation, our values," Obama said.
He added, "The values that say everybody gets a fair shot at opportunity and says that we expect all of us to fulfill our individual obligations as citizens in return. So Jack has my complete trust. I know I'm not alone in that."
While Lew has been easily confirmed by the Senate for other positions, his confirmation as head of the Treasury Department may be more contentious in light of the looming debt ceiling debate.
Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., has indicated that he will lead the charge to block Lew's nomination, issuing a statement saying, "Jack Lew must never be Secretary of Treasury."
Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, accused Lew of misleading Congress by telling the Budget Committee the president's budget would not add to the national debt.
"His testimony before the Senate Budget Committee less than two years ago was so outrageous and false that it alone disqualifies," Sessions said.
The nomination of Lew may set up another fight with the Senate, as Obama is also expected to face resistance to his nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary.
by RTT Staff Writer
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