Jack Lew has been confirmed as Treasury secretary. The 71-26 came after noisy Republican opposition over his perks from previous employers.
Lew will be pitched immediately into the heated budget battles between the White House and congressional Republicans. Both sides oppose the estimated $85 billion in across-the-board government spending cuts set to take effect on Friday, but disagree about alternatives.
Previously Obama's chief of staff and budget director for both Obama and former President Bill Clinton, Lew is a policy wonk who has spent much of his career in public service in Washington. But some observers have questioned his financial expertise and international credentials.
Lew's confirmation came a day after that of Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense, on a 58-41 vote. Hagel, who was sworn in Wednesday morning, had faced largely Republican opposition for statements about Israel and Iran, among other issues.