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Article updated: 2/28/2013 4:18 PM

Lew becomes nation's 76th Treasury secretary

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, left, accompanied by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, speaks to reporters before his first meeting as Treasury secretary Thursday.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, left, accompanied by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, speaks to reporters before his first meeting as Treasury secretary Thursday.

 

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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By Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Jacob Lew was sworn in Thursday as the nation's 76th Treasury secretary, one day before across-the-board government spending cuts kick in that could hold back the U.S. economy.

Vice President Joe Biden led the brief ceremony at the Oval Office, with Lew's wife and family and President Barack Obama looking on.

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After the ceremony, Lew walked to the Treasury Department and was greeted by employees who lined the steps of the building.

Prior to taking the job, Lew, 57, was White House budget director in both the Obama and Clinton administrations and most recently served as Obama's chief of staff. He's expected to take part in any negotiations to reverse the spending cuts that take effect Friday. He's also likely to play a key role in budget talks next month to continue funding the government.

Lew planned to meet over the next two days with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and other members of the Financial Stability Oversight Council. The group was created after the 2008 financial crisis to provide better oversight of the financial system and better coordination between regulatory agencies.

The Senate confirmed Lew on a 71-26 vote late Wednesday with 25 Republicans and one independent, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, opposing the nomination.

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