WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Jacob Lew as Treasury secretary, allowing the longtime budget expert to take office as President Barack Obama deals with looming automatic federal spending cuts.
Lew, 57, was approved by a 71-26 vote. He succeeds Timothy Geithner, who stepped down in January after four years in the job.
Lew brings different expertise to the job than Geithner, who had a deep background dealing with financial markets and Wall Street.
For his second treasury secretary, Obama chose someone with a long history of crafting budgets and helping negotiate spending deals with Republicans in Congress.
Lew, who has worked in Washington since the 1970s, was budget director for President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s. Lew held the same position with the Obama administration from 2010 until early 2012, when he became White House chief of staff.
Democrats touted his deep expertise in budgeting as a key reason for confirming him. But although Lew was confirmed with significant bipartisan support, some Republicans were outspoken in opposition to his nomination.
They criticized him for his support of Obama's view that tax increases are needed to help reduce the nation's debt. And they said they had unanswered questions about his job as an executive at Citigroup Inc. from 2006 to 2009 and as chief operating officer at New York University.