Jack Lew, US Treasury Secretary nominee, grilled by Republicans in confirmation hearing


Jack Lew, now being called "Loopy Lew" for his distinctive signature, is pictured at a White House press briefing in Washington, DC, on Sept. 19, 2011.


Chip Somodevilla

US Treasury Secretary nominee Jack Lew will attempt to convince the Senate Finance Committee to confirm him in a hearing on Capitol Hill today, the Associated Press reported.

Lew, 57, former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, is hoping to step into the position vacated last month by Timothy Geithner.

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"There is no straighter shooter than Jack Lew," Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer said when introducing him, Fox News reported.

In his opening remarks, Lew voiced his opposition to $85 billion in automatic spending cuts due to take effect on March 1, arguing that the cuts would impose "self-inflicted wounds to the recovery and put far too many jobs and businesses at risk,” the AP reported.

Initial questions focused on Lew’s background.

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch asked Lew whether his previous job as chief operating officer at two units at Citigroup would make it difficult for him to regulate trading at banks, Reuters reported. Lew received a $940,000 bonus from Citigroup in January 2009, just before taxpayers bailed out the bank.

"If you were to be confirmed, it could lead to an awkward situation in which ... you would effectively be saying to financial firms: do as I say, not as I did," Hatch said, according to Reuters.

Lew said there was nothing in his past that would present a conflict of interest, the AP reported.

Republicans also brought up a $56,000 investment Lew once owned in a Citigroup venture capital fund registered in the Cayman Islands, Reuters reported. Obama has criticized offshore accounts. Lew said he didn't know at the time where the partnership was based, and he actually lost money on the investment.

Lew is expected to win confirmation from the Democrat-controlled Senate later this month, the AP reported.