WASHINGTON (AP) — A Wall Street banker nominated by President Barack Obama to be the third-ranking official at the Treasury Department has pulled out of contention for the post in the face of Democratic opposition, a blow to the White House and a victory for the party’s liberal wing.
The White House says Antonio Weiss asked that Obama not resubmit his nomination to the Senate. Instead, Weiss will serve as a counselor to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, a post that does not require Senate confirmation.
Obama last year nominated Weiss, a Lazard investment banker, to be undersecretary of the Treasury Department, heading the office that oversees domestic finance. Without action in the Senate last year to confirm him, Obama would have had to re-nominate him to the job.
Weiss faced vocal opposition from Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a leading liberal voice in the Senate and a top advocate for tough banking and Wall Street regulations. Warren argued that Weiss was too close to Wall Street to hold a high post at Treasury. Following her lead, several other Democrats had announced they would oppose Weiss, putting his confirmation in peril.
By keeping Weiss on as a counselor, the Obama administration signaled its annoyance with the resistance Weiss faced from Democrats.
“I continue to believe that the opposition to his nomination was not justified,” Lew said in a statement. As counselor, Weiss will provide advice on issues ranging from financial markets to regulatory reform and economic growth, Lew said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a liberal independent who caucuses with Democrats, said Obama does not need advisers who come from Wall Street. “I have no personal animosity toward Mr. Weiss but I am very glad he withdrew his nomination,” Sanders said.
The withdrawal was first reported by Politico.
White House spokeswoman Jennifer Friedman said the White House would now conduct a search for another nominee.