President Barack Obama may choose White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew to replace Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner as soon as this week, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The selection of Lew would trigger a White House shuffle for Obama’s second term as he replaces his chief of staff and moves senior aides into new roles, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss personnel matters.
While Obama hasn’t made a final decision to pick Lew, the president’s staff has been instructed to prepare for his nomination, said one of the people.
Obama has several other cabinet and cabinet-rank jobs to fill, including commerce secretary, Environmental Protection Agency administrator, U.S. trade representative and director of the Office of Management and Budget.
The next Treasury secretary will play a leading role in working with Congress to raise the government’s $16.4 trillion debt ceiling. The U.S. reached the statutory limit on Dec. 31, and the Treasury Department began using extraordinary measures to finance the government. It will exhaust that avenue as early as mid-February, the Congressional Budget Office says.
Geithner plans to leave the administration by the end of January even if the debt ceiling issue hasn’t been settled.
White House press secretary Jay Carney did not directly answer yesterday when he was asked whether Obama would seek to have a new Treasury secretary confirmed before Geithner leaves.
“I have no other announcements to make or updates to give with regards to personnel,” Carney said. “I am sure that when the president nominates a successor to Secretary Geithner, he will look forward to speedy consideration by the Senate.”
“But I don’t have a timetable for that,” he said.