WASHINGTON – New York Federal Reserve President Timothy Geithner was confirmed as secretary of the Treasury by a Senate vote Monday.
More than 30 senators voted against Geithner,referring to his recent payment of taxes he failed to pay several years ago as simply a measure to maintain the nomination.
Sen. Johnny Isakson,R-Ga.,said Giethner should be held to the highest standard of the law. Isakson told the Senate he met a retired IRS agent who said he was called upon to fire three people who committed the same offense as Geitner did.
“How would I explain my vote to people in Georgia?” he said.
Sen. Orrin Hatch,R-Utah,said Geitner's experience at the Federal Reserve was better than that of any replacement nominee,who might be less effective in taking the country out of its economic crisis.
“We do not want someone who will sink or merely tread water,” he said. “We want someone who will swim.”
Democratic Sens. Robert Byrd of West Virginia,Russell Feingold of Wisconsin,Tom Harkin of Iowa and Sen. Bernie Sanders,I-Vt.,were among the 34 senators who voted against Geitner's confirmation.
Among the 60 senators voting to confirm Geitner were John Kerry D-Mass.,Diane Feinstein D-Calif.,and Roland W. Burris D-Ill.
The 10 Republicans who voted yes were Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee,John Cornyn of Texas,Mike Crapo of Idaho,John Ensign of Nevada,Lindsey Graham of South Carolina,Judd Gregg of New Hampshire,Richard Shelby of Alabama,Olympia Snowe of Maine and George Voinovich of Ohio.
Harkin said Geithner's error was too big to overlook,adding he hoped Geithner would prove him wrong.
“Those big bankers are tough and will protect their turf,” he said. “They don't need a treasury secretary who will write a letter. They need someone who will be busting heads.”
Geithner was sworn in less than an hour after the vote.