U.S. Senator Charles Grassley said he wants more details on loans Jack Lew received while working at New York University before the Senate Finance Committee votes on whether to confirm the Treasury secretary-nominee.
Grassley, a committee member, yesterday criticized Lew for a “lack of knowledge or a poor memory of some of the perks he received” while working at NYU and Citigroup Inc. (C) Grassley had asked Lew to respond in writing to questions about a loan from NYU that the Iowa Republican said included $1.4 million in 2002, $748,000 in 2003, $698,000 in 2004 and $673,000 in 2005.
Lew, President Barack Obama’s pick to lead the Treasury Department, was questioned by committee members at a Feb. 13 confirmation hearing and provided additional information in writing afterward. Grassley called the written answers “unsatisfactory,” and asked for more information before the panel votes on sending the nomination to the Senate floor.
White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in an e-mail yesterday that Lew “has been fully responsive to this committee to an unprecedented degree, providing written responses to 444 questions over the last five days.”
“This follows three separate rounds of questions answered prior to his hearing, his release to the committee of six years of tax returns, a 3.5-hour confirmation hearing and his participation in personal one-on-one meetings with 41 senators over the course of two weeks,” Schultz said.
In the written answers to Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah obtained by Bloomberg News, Lew said he would press China to adopt a “market-determined” exchange rate. Lew said he would push China to “level the playing field for our workers and firms, and support a sustained shift to domestic consumption-led growth in China.”
Lew cited “progress” in China, including a 15 percent gain in the yuan against the dollar in real terms since June 2010 and a decline in the current-account surplus from a peak of more than 10 percent of gross domestic product to less than 3 percent. Still, he said, “more progress is needed.”
Senator Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat and finance committee chairman, has said a vote on Lew’s nomination would likely occur after the Senate returns from this week’s recess. It would then go to the full Senate, and Baucus said he expected Lew to be confirmed.
Lew has also been pressed by Grassley about a personal investment in a Cayman Islands-based fund. During last week’s hearing, Lew said that he wasn’t initially aware the fund was in the Cayman Islands. He also said he lost money when he sold the holding.
Sean Neary, a spokesman for Baucus, said Lew had “been open and honest,” and responded to panel members’ questions in a timely fashion.
“The confirmation process continues to move forward,” Neary said in an e-mail. “All members are entitled to ask Mr. Lew follow-up questions.”
Lew, Obama’s former chief of staff and former director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, will replace former Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner if confirmed.
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