WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will nominate White House chief of staff Jack Lew to be his second-term secretary of the Treasury Department, turning to one of Washington's most knowledgeable budget experts to manage prickly fiscal negotiations with Congress and steer the still-shaky national economy.
Lew's nomination, expected today, accelerates the overhaul of Obama's top advisers, with new leaders at the Pentagon, State Department, Central Intelligence Agency and Labor Department. Obama also must replace Lew with a new chief of staff, and that could have a ripple effect through the West Wing's senior ranks.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney praised the expected nominee: "Over the past more than quarter of a century, Jack Lew has been an integral part of some of the most important budgetary financial and fiscal agreements, bipartisan agreements in Washington."
Lew, 57, would bring to the Treasury a mastery of federal budget mechanics, honed during two stints as director of the Office of Management and Budget. While running OMB during the Clinton administration, Lew helped negotiate a balanced budget agreement with Congress, something that has eluded Washington since.
Lew's budget background could help shape the Obama administration's strategy in talks with congressional Republicans over the federal debt ceiling. GOP lawmakers are expected to demand deep budget cuts as the price for agreeing to raise the debt limit, which is expected to be reached sometime in February.
Lew, a pragmatic liberal and Orthodox Jew who doesn't work on Saturdays, is well-liked in Washington by both Democrats and Republicans, and respected by staffers at the White House, where he has served as chief of staff since January 2012.
Lew has long been considered the favorite to replace current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The last original member of Obama's economic team, Geithner plans to leave in late January.
One prominent woman in Obama's Cabinet, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, told colleagues Wednesday that she was resigning her post. No successor was named.
Lew is expected to be easily confirmed by the Senate, though at least one prominent Republican has already stated his opposition. "We need a secretary of Treasury that the American people, the Congress, and the world will know is up to the task of getting America on the path to prosperity not the path to decline," said Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. "Jack Lew is not that man."