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Senate approves Jacob Lew as Treasury secretary

WASHINGTON (JTA) — With a strong bipartisan majority, the U.S. Senate confirmed Jacob Lew as Treasury secretary.

Lew, formerly President Obama’s chief of staff, was confirmed late Wednesday in a 71-26 vote, with 20 Republicans voting for him.

An observant Jew from New York, Lew also has served twice — under Presidents Clinton and Obama — as chief of the Office of Management and Budget and, under Obama, as a deputy secretary of state.

Lew faced questions over a $685,000 severance payment he received when he resigned as executive vice president of New York University, and also met some resistance from Republicans who said Lew, as OMB chief, was too closely identified with the current impasse over passing a budget.

Nonetheless, his solid majority was in contrast to Chuck Hagel, Obama’s Defense secretary nominee, who garnered the support of just four Republicans and was approved earlier in the week with 58 votes.

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