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Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who has served since the beginning of Obama’s first term, leaves the administration on Friday. His deputy, Neal Wolin, will serve as acting secretary until the Senate approves a new economic chief.
In Lew, Obama picked a trusted confidante and a two-time White House budget director. But he also chose someone who contributed to the hostility between the White House and Republican lawmakers.
During a fight last year to raise the debt ceiling, Lew’s unwavering negotiating position angered Republicans as well as some Democrats, who preferred dealing with Geithner.
Isakson dismissed those criticisms. Lew, he said, “was very approachable. I didn’t get any sense of that at all in this meeting.”
Lew could need as many as 60 votes to win confirmation in the Senate, where Democrats control the upper chamber 53-45.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have already endorsed him. But a number of Republicans and Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, have said they think Lew should not serve as Treasury secretary.
At the beginning of his meeting with Lew, Isakson asked him how his meetings in Congress were going.
“So far so good,” Lew replied with a smile and slight shrug of his shoulders.
“But it’s still early,” Isakson said.