None too soon for the Obama administration, Jack Lew was sworn in early Friday afternoon as Office of Management and Budget director after winning Senate confirmation the preceding evening, according to a spokesman.
Lawmakers acted Thursday after Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., dropped a hold placed on Lew’s nomination in late September in a bid to force the administration to end a six-month moratorium on deepwater oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The administration yielded more than a month ago, but Landrieu had continued the hold, saying she wanted an “action plan” for putting the industry back to work.
In a news release explaining her decision to let the nomination proceed, Landrieu said that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will travel to Louisiana on Monday “to meet with industry and express the administration’s support for the oil and gas industry.”
“He will outline the path forward so that permits will be issued and the people of Louisiana can get back to work in this vital industry.”
Thursday’s voice vote means the White House will have a confirmed OMB chief in charge of preparing the president’s fiscal 2012 budget request that will be released early next year. Lew, who had lately been working at the State Department, first served as OMB director from 1998-2001 during the Clinton administration. His nomination for a second tour had bipartisan support.
Some, of course, might question why Lew is taking the position, given trillion-dollar deficits, a balkanized Congress and other circumstances suggesting this stint will be like one long trip to the chiropractor. But his boss expressed confidence.
Lew “brings unparalleled experience and wisdom to this important job at a critical time in our nation’s history,” Obama said in a statement. After years of irresponsibility in Washington, we need to make the tough choices to put our country back on a sustainable fiscal path and lay the foundation for long-term job creation and economic growth. We need to cut waste where we find it and create a government that is efficient, effective and responsive to the American people. I can confident Jack Lew can lead us in these efforts, and look forward to working with him in the days ahead.”