Jack Lew Faces Surprise GOP Obstacles

Republican Says Medicare May Hold Up Jewish Treasury Pick

getty images

By Reuters

Published February 07, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions on Thursday warned that President Barack Obama’s nominee for Treasury secretary could face a tough time winning confirmation if the White House did not clear up a dispute over the Medicare health program.

Jack Lew, Obama’s former chief of staff and budget director, is due to testify on Wednesday before a Senate panel that is vetting him for the administration’s top economic job. Lew would succeed Timothy Geithner who left office last month.

Republicans say that a 2003 Medicare modernization law requires the administration to submit a proposal to Congress to fix a financial shortfall in the government-run health program for retirees if Medicare trustees issue a funding warning.

“In order to properly consider Mr. Lew’s nomination, Congress will need documents pertaining to his role in the violation of this law, as well as a concrete legislative proposal that brings the administration into legal compliance,” Sessions said in a letter to acting White House budget director Jeffrey Zients.

Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said that “failure to do so could make it difficult” for Lew’s nomination to move forward. The Alabama senator did not elaborate, and his office did not comment when asked if Sessions would to try to block the nomination.

Although Democrats control the Senate 53-45, Lew may need as many as 60 votes to win confirmation if any senator seeks to block his nomination procedurally. Sessions is one of two Republicans to have publicly signaled opposition to Lew’s nomination. Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, has said he would not support Lew for the job.

In June 2011, more than 40 Republican lawmakers sent Obama a letter urging the White House to submit its Medicare legislative proposal. Many of them sit on the Senate Finance Committee, which is in charge of vetting Lew for Treasury secretary.

The administration said the 2003 requirement is non-binding. “The executive branch considers the requirement to submit legislation in response to the Medicare funding warning to be advisory and not binding,” Zients said in a Feb. 5 letter to Sessions.

White House officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.