US President Barack Obama picked Jack Lew as his new Treasury secretary Thursday and called on the Senate to confirm him as quickly as possible, so he can press on with the work of reviving the economy.
Lew, Obama's current chief of staff, is slated to take over from Tim Geithner, who stood by Obama's side at the darkest moments of the crisis that was hammering American jobs and prosperity when he took office in 2009.
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"I cannot think of a better person to continue Tim's work at Treasury than Jack Lew," Obama said, in a White House event rounding out his nominations for the top cabinet jobs in his second term which begins on January 20.
"Jack knows that every number on a page, every dollar we budget, every decision we make, has to be an expression of who we wish to be as a nation.
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"So, I hope the Senate will confirm him as quickly as possible," Obama said, though almost as soon as he spoke, his Republican opponents ratcheted up a campaign of opposition against his new nominee.
Lew, 57, an observant Jew who does not work on Saturday, is well-liked in Washington by both Democrats and Republicans and well-respected by staffers at the White House, where he has served as chief of staff since January 2012.
His selection symbolically hit the start button on a new showdown between Obama and Republicans on Capitol Hill, just over a week after the end of the "fiscal cliff" tax and spending tussle.
"Jack has my complete trust ... in the words of one former senator, having Lew on your team is the equivalent as a coach of having the luxury of putting somebody at almost every position and knowing he will do well," Obama said.
Obama emphasized the success that Lew had in turning deficits into budget surpluses during the Clinton administration, but Republicans immediately focused on the more challenging time he had as this president's budget director.
AP contributed to this report
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