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U.S. Senate Panel Backs Lew for Treasury Secretary

Jack Lew's nomination for Treasury Secretary cleared the Senate Finance Committee yesterday, clearing the way for a full senate vote on his confirmation.

Lew has said revamping the U.S. tax code would be a top priority if he wins confirmation. The tax system was last fully overhauled in 1986, though prospects for achieving tax reform are clouded by Washington's constant fiscal fights and conflict over whether new revenue is needed to cut budget deficits.

He will also deal with implementing new financial regulations, China's growing economic clout and winding down government-controlled mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In addition, he may have to start paying more attention to Europe, where financial markets are on edge over election results in Italy that some analysts fear could exacerbate the euro zone's debt crisis.

Lew answered at least 444 written questions from the senators on the Finance Committee on these matters and others. Geithner was required to answer fewer than half that number when he was seeking confirmation.

While a few lawmakers, including Senator Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Budget Committee, plan to vote against Lew when his confirmation gets to the full Senate, Senate Democrats believe they have the requisite 60 votes to get Lew through the process even if some hurdles are raised.

Copyright 2013 by Reuters. All rights reserved.

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