HomeThe LatestSenate Confirms Lew as Ambassador to Israel Amidst Republican Opposition

Senate Confirms Lew as Ambassador to Israel Amidst Republican Opposition

In a closely watched and contentious vote, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Biden’s nominee, Jack Lew, as the ambassador to Israel on Tuesday. The vote, which followed weeks of Republican opposition, resulted in a 53-43 tally in favor of Lew’s confirmation.

Throughout the confirmation process, Republican senators had expressed strong reservations about Lew’s nomination, primarily centered around his prior involvement in shaping Iran sanctions and his role as Treasury secretary during the Obama administration.

The vote saw only two Republican senators, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, breaking ranks with their party to support Lew’s confirmation. Meanwhile, the majority of Republicans opposed the appointment, citing concerns about Lew’s track record and the potential implications for U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

On the Senate floor just after the 3:15 PM ET vote, Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, a Democrat, voiced his support for Lew, stating that he believed Lew was the right choice for the role of ambassador to Israel. Schumer praised Lew as a capable public servant who had a strong record of being an ally to Israel and commanded trust and respect. He also commended Lew for his decency and humanity.

Despite Schumer’s endorsement and the support of some key Republican figures, such as Senators Paul and Graham, a substantial number of Republican senators had opposed Lew’s confirmation from the outset. The concerns largely revolved around Lew’s involvement in the Iran nuclear deal during his tenure as Treasury secretary, as well as actions related to the conversion of Iranian assets in U.S. banks.

A report by the investigative subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in 2018 had raised questions about Lew’s authorization of the conversion of Iranian assets worth billions of U.S. dollars through the U.S. financial system. Lew responded during a hearing that he considered Iran a regional threat and pledged to uphold President Biden’s commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Additionally, Lew had faced scrutiny over a $400 million cash transfer to Iran in 2016, part of a larger $1.7 billion settlement related to a long-standing dispute over an arms deal that predated the 1979 Iranian revolution. The payment was conducted using a combination of Swiss and other foreign currencies and was transported to Iran on unidentified cargo planes.

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