Warren Wins: Obama Treasury Pick Bows Out Of Nomination Process

January 12, 2015 5:22 p.m.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has won her push to stop banker Antonio Weiss from becoming the under secretary for domestic policy at the Treasury Department.

Weiss asked President Barack Obama not to resend his nomination for the job, Politico reported on Monday and the White House confirmed to TPM.

Weiss, a Democrat and banker at Lazard, had been in the crosshairs of Warren over the last few weeks as she railed against the unnecessary influence of Wall Street in the halls of Congress.

Warren had maintained that Weiss’s background as a banker who was involved in a merger between Tim Horton’s and Burger King disqualified him from the Treasury post.

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“I am writing to request that the administration not re-submit my nomination,” Weiss wrote in the letter to Obama, according to Politico. “I do not believe the Treasury Department would be well served by the lengthy confirmation process my renomination would likely entail.”

Weiss will instead take a job as an adviser to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, which does not require congressional approval.

A number of liberal Democrats and Republicans had begun to line up behind Warren. The lines were not broken down by party. While five Democrats besides Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) had expressed opposition to Weiss, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) suggested support for him. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) told TPM that he was keeping “an open mind” about Weiss’s nomination. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told TPM he was leaning to “no.”

Tony Fratto, a former assistant secretary at the Treasury Department and a White House former deputy press secretary for President George W. Bush said Weiss’s decision was a shame and “embarassing for the Obama administration.”

“It’s really a shame. I think it’s awful. It’s embarrassing for the Obama Administration. Terrible for Treasury — including the eventual under secretary, who will have the preferred nominee in the building. Terrible for Weiss,” Fratto, who had been advocating for Weiss in the under secretary role, told TPM in an email. “The things we put nominees through only to be upended by ill-informed, myopic, demagoguery. Senator Warren should be embarrassed, but she’s really shameless. Senate Democratic leaders — especially Schumer — should be embarrassed for not standing up for Weiss.”

The White House said opposition to Weiss “was not justified.”

“Mr. Weiss made the request to avoid the distraction of the lengthy confirmation process that his renomination would likely entail,” White House spokeswoman Jennifer Friedman said in a 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 Administrationā€™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. We strongly believe that the opposition to his nomination was not justified, and we are confident that he will prove himself to be a dedicated, talented, and effective public servant.”

Lew said he was disappointed but understood Weiss’s decision.

“I am disappointed that Antonio will not have the opportunity to serve as Under Secretary, but I understand his request not to be re-nominated. I continue to believe that the opposition to his nomination was not justified,” Lew said in a statement. “Nonetheless, I am confident that he will prove himself to be a dedicated, talented, and effective public servant and that he will make an important contribution to the work we are doing to create broadly shared economic opportunity and financial stability that will be a foundation for long-term prosperity.”

This post has been updated.

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