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!
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • 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.