Opening Statements of Committee Members

Opening Statement of Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE)

Hearing on the Nomination of Lawrence H. Summers
to be Secretary of the Treasury

10:00 a.m., Tuesday, June 22, 1999

Good Morning and welcome to Secretary Summers.

Secretary Summers and I have had a good working history during his time at the Treasury Department. In the wake of Secretary Rubin's departure I can think of no better candidate to fill the top post at Treasury. Given the turmoil in international markets over the past few years, I think it is critical that there be a smooth transition from one Treasury Secretary to another. Secretary Summers' nomination provides the transition and continuity that should reassure the financial markets.

Secretary Summers' extensive background in academia has given him the technical knowledge that will be important in his new role. Equally important has been his experience at the Treasury Department.

Secretary Summers has worked closely with Secretary Rubin and Chairman Greenspan on a wide range of issues. His most prominent role has been on international financial issues.

All of us remember and appreciate Secretary Summers' hard work during the Asian financial crisis and the events that followed. The U.S. response, at times, was imperfect but the events of the past 2 years have pushed the limits of our understanding. Overall, given the calming of international markets, I would like to congratulate Secretary Summers on his role in seeking to reform the international financial architecture. I expect he will continue to put an emphasis on this important objective as Treasury Secretary.

I would also like to take this opportunity to urge the Secretary to work closely with us on entitlement reform. There is no issue more important for Congress and the President to address than reforming Social Security and Medicare. These programs take over half the federal budget to administer and they affect the lives of many Americans. I have not been encouraged by the signals coming from the White House on entitlement reform but I hope Secretary Summers can change this.

Again, I extend a warm welcome to Secretary Summers and look forward to hearing from him.

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