Senate approves Snow as Treasury secretary

Published: Friday, January 31, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 30, 2003 at 11:00 p.m.
WASHINGTON - The Senate approved President Bush's nomination of John Snow as Treasury secretary Thursday night after the railroad executive gave assurances he would review a department rule on pensions that opponents contend discriminates against older workers.
The nomination of the administration's top economic spokesman was approved by voice vote after many senators had already left the Capitol to begin a long three-day weekend.
Snow, the head of railroad giant CSX Corp. for the past 14 years, was picked by Bush last month to be his new Treasury secretary after the ouster of Paul O'Neill in a shake-up of the administration's economic team.
The administration had pushed for a quick Senate vote, hoping to have Snow on the job by Monday, when Bush will send Congress his new budget.
Snow's nomination won approval after he held a 40- minute meeting with Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who had blocked the nomination from being taken up by the full Senate until they had a chance to air their grievances with Snow over the pension issue.
The two want the government to implement a rule that would prohibit companies from forcing workers out of so-called defined benefit plans into "cash balance" pension plans. Many companies have been adopting the new type of pension to cut costs.
The two senators said that Snow gave no assurances on what shape the final Treasury rule would take but did pledge to keep the current moratorium on forced conversions in place until a final rule is implemented.

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