Geithner vote looms on Capitol Hill
The Democratic-controlled Senate is likely to confirm President Obama's choice for Treasury Secretary on Monday.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Senate is set to meet Monday evening to vote on Tim Geithner's nomination as the next Treasury Secretary. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has said he expects to hold a vote at 6 p.m. ET.
Geithner is expected to easily win confirmation from the Democratic-controlled Senate. Democrats on Capitol Hill have spoken of the need to quickly confirm Geithner, who will spearhead President Obama's response to the financial crisis that threatens to unravel economic growth around the globe.
Reid warned Friday that Republicans "would not be very wise politically" to try to hold up the nomination, which last week won the support of all the Democrats and half the Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee. He added that Democrats could block any attempt to filibuster.
On Thursday, the committee recommended in an 18-5 vote that the full Senate confirm the appointment of Geithner, who is currently president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, to succeed Henry Paulson. Supporters spoke highly of Geithner's substantial experience in managing financial emergencies.
Five Republicans, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, supported his nomination, citing among other things the enormous stress the economy and the financial system are under right now.
If confirmed, Geithner will take over for Stuart A. Levey, the Under Secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, who has been serving as acting Treasury Secretary since the Obama administration took office last week.
The finance panel's recommendation came after two hearings last week that were dominated by questions about how President Obama and his top advisers plan to address the troubles in the financial sector.
Shares of big U.S. banks have plunged anew this month as investors struggle to come to grips with the risk that financial institutions will be overwhelmed by rising loan losses as the economy slows -- and the possibility that shareholders may be wiped out by a new round of government aid.
Congress has given Obama access to $350 billion of federal bailout funds. But congressional leaders, angered by the Bush administration's handling of the first slug of money under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, have demanded that tough new terms be applied to bailout recipients -- and that the government give taxpayers a more complete account of how money is spent.
For his part, Geithner said in testimony last week that the administration is working on what he called a comprehensive response to the crisis. He said Obama would address the nation in coming weeks. Geithner also stressed the need for the government to act urgently and with great force.
"The tragic history of financial crises is a history of failures by governments to act with the speed and force commensurate with the severity of the crisis," Geithner said. "In a crisis of this magnitude, the most prudent course is the most forceful course."
Geithner also said he didn't yet see the need for more federal bailout funds, but stressed that the Treasury may have to "act flexibly" if conditions deteriorate further. The comments suggest the president may ask Congress for additional money beyond the $350 billion currently available under TARP.
Lawrence Summers, head of the National Economic Council, on Sunday wouldn't rule out the possibility that more money would be needed. "We can make important progress and get started with the support that has been provided," Summers said on NBC's "Meet the Press" when asked whether taxpayers should expect another request for funding to shore up the financial system. "What ultimately will be necessary is something that will play out over time."
Similarly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday said that "some increased investment" may be needed.
The five Republican committee members who opposed Geithner's nomination did so in part because of questions about Geithner's tax problems and whether he had candidly answered their inquiries about them.
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., questioned Geithner extensively about the errors on his 2003 and 2004 tax returns and why Geithner didn't immediately pay back taxes due on his 2001 and 2002 returns.