Lazard investment banker Antonio Weiss has asked President Obama to give up on nominating him for a senior spot in the US Treasury.
Politico’s Ben White reports that following major opposition to the nomination from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and others, Weiss wrote a letter to the president over the weekend asking him not to resend his nomination to the Senate.
Instead, Weiss will be circumventing Senate confirmation and accepting a different job with lesser authority at the Treasury, as a counselor to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
The White House released this statement on the decision (via Politico):
“Over the weekend, Mr. Weiss asked the White House not to re-nominate him to serve as Under Secretary for Domestic Finance at the Treasury Department. Mr. Weiss made the request to avoid the distraction of the lengthy confirmation process that his renomination would likely entail,” White House spokesperson Jennifer Friedman said in an emailed statement. “We continue to believe that Mr. Weiss is an extremely well-qualified individual, who is committed to the policy goals of this Administration and firmly supports the Administration’s policies on fostering economic growth and supporting our middle class. We are pleased that he has accepted the role of counselor to the Treasury secretary.”
For months, Sen. Warren has led the battle against Weiss’ nomination, claiming that his experience did not meet the requirements of the domestic finance position and suggesting that there were already too many Wall Street alumni working in government. She outlined her views in an op-ed titled “Enough is Enough” back in November.
Most of Weiss’ banking experience is in international mergers and acquisitions, and he spent much of his career overseas. As Treasury undersecretary for domestic finance, he would have been responsible for decisions on national debt, consumer policy, and Treasury stability.
A number of former Treasury officials thought Warren was way out of line, and that Weiss’ experience was perfect for the position he was being nominated for.
The White House stood by its nominee throughout, stating last month, “This is somebody who has very good knowledge of the way that the financial markets work, and that is critically important.”
No argument on that here.