Obama to Keep Pushing Weiss for Treasury Amid Warren-Led OutcryMike Dorning and Jeanna Smialek
President Barack Obama plans to maintain support for Lazard Ltd.’s Antonio Weiss as a nominee to be a Treasury undersecretary, setting up a clash with lawmakers who oppose another banker regulating Wall Street.
The Obama administration will resubmit the 48-year-old as its pick for undersecretary for domestic finance, a White House aide said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the move hasn’t been publicly announced. The choice comes even after Democratic lawmakers including Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren have criticized Weiss’s nomination. Without resubmission to a new Congress that starts in January, the nomination would lapse.
At least seven senators have come out against Weiss, Lazard’s global head of investment banking, finding fault with his Wall Street experience and his work on corporate tax inversions. Warren has said Weiss isn’t qualified because he’s spent much of his career working on international deals.
“Not every person who swoops in through the revolving door should be offered a top job without some serious cross-examination,” she said Dec. 9 in prepared remarks at an event in Washington. “Qualifications matter, and Weiss doesn’t have them.”
Weiss’s nomination has also drawn ire from the Independent Community Bankers of America and from Sheila Bair, former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Four former U.S. Treasury officials -- Jeffrey Goldstein, Mary Miller, Robert Steel and Randal Quarles -- endorsed Weiss in a December letter to Senate Finance Committee leaders. They were quickly followed by a second letter of support, in which more than 60 New York business leaders, including Morgan Stanley’s James Gorman and BlackRock Inc.’s Laurence D. Fink, said he’s well-qualified for the job.
Weiss is expected to come before the finance panel next year, and is meeting with Senate lawmakers one-on-one to make his case prior to that. Republicans won control of the Senate in elections last month. He would need confirmation by the full Senate to assume the undersecretary role, which Miller left in September. Matthew Rutherford is now acting in the position.