Jack Lew clears first treasury secretary hurdle

Jack Lew.

Jack Lew, President Obama's former chief of staff, cleared the first hurdle this morning to becoming treasury secretary, earning confirmation from the Senate Finance Committee on his way to a full Senate vote.

The committee voted 19-5 to approve Lew's confirmation. Among those who voted against him were Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, one of Lew's more vocal critics in the confirmation process. 

Sen. Orrin  Hatch, R-Utah, voted in favor of Lew, registering "serious reservations" regarding the nominee's record, but arguing "the president is owed a fair amount of deference in choosing people to work in his administration."

Lew, who joined the Obama administration in 2009, testified earlier this month before the committee about his record both with the Obama administration and in the private sector. Of particular concern among Republicans  were various elements of his record at the Wall Street giant Citigroup, where he worked from 2006-2008.

Nevertheless, Lew, who worked under the Clinton administration as a budget director, faced only minor opposition in his bid to become treasury secretary, particularly compared to other controversial cabinet nominees, such as defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, whose confirmation is expected to pass today after weeks of resistance from Republicans, including a filibuster in the Senate.