Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, declared today that Jack Lew must "never" become secretary of the Treasury.
"To confirm Mr. Lew would be to acquiesce in a policy of dishonesty to the American people," Sessions said. "For me, no mea culpa, no excuse, can erase the errors of Mr. Lew."
President Obama today formally nominated Lew, the White House chief of staff, in the East Room of the White House, to replace outgoing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Lew's nomination now goes before the Senate for approval. Sessions became the first senator to vow to block Lew's rise to Treasury secretary.
At issue, Sessions said, is what he called Lew's "outrageous and false" testimony before the Senate Budget committee nearly two years ago. Sessions said the testimony should disqualify Lew from becoming Treasury secretary.
"To look the American people in the eye and make such a statement remains the most direct and important false assertion during my entire time in Washington," Sessions said. "We need a secretary of Treasury that the American people, the Congress, and the world will know is up to the task of getting America on the path to prosperity, not the path to decline. Jack Lew is not that man."
Obama today called for the Senate to confirm Lew as quickly as possible.
"Jack has my complete trust," Obama said. "In the words of one former senator, having Lew on your team is the equivalent, as a coach, of having the luxury of putting somebody in almost any position and knowing he will do well. And I could not agree more."