The Senate Finance Committee is expected to act swiftly on the nomination.
The panel's chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he would schedule a
Sen. Max Baucus (news, bio, voting record) of Montana, the panel's
highest-ranking Democrat, called Paulson an outstanding choice and said the
administration could benefit by "taking Hank's expert advice and restoring
Treasury's central role as the economic policy driver in the executive branch."
Another Democrat, Chuck Schumer of New York, said Paulson was "the best pick
America could have hoped for."
The nomination process, however, is likely to throw a fresh light on the
chasm between Democrats and Republicans over the president's economic policies.
Republicans credit the president's tax cuts for helping cushion the blow of
the 2001 recession. Democrats say the tax cuts mainly helped the wealthy and
plunged the government's balance sheets deeper into red ink.
"Mr. Paulson will face many challenges ... in steering our economy toward
greater prosperity for all Americans," said Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid
Speculation that Paulson would take over from Snow increased after Joshua
Bolten, a former Goldman Sachs executive who had worked with Paulson and was
leading the effort to find a replacement, became the new White House chief of
Snow, meanwhile, plans to attend the June 9-10 meeting in Russia of finance
ministers from the Group of Eight major industrial countries. That meeting will
help prepare the agenda for this year's G-8 summit which is being held in July
in St. Petersburg.
A loyal lieutenant in Bush's economic team, Snow has traveled around the
country promoting, among other things, Social Security changes and an overhaul
of the tax code. His standing, however, suffered as both proposals stalled.
Handing off the baton, Snow said of Paulson: "He's an old friend, somebody
I've admired and respected and worked with over the years. ... Hank will be a
great addition to your administration."