The U.S. Senate on Wednesday confirmed Jack Lew as President Barack Obama's new treasury secretary, putting the former White House chief of staff in the middle of a bitter political fight over the government's budget.

Senators backed Lew in a 71-26 vote, with the nominee capturing all of the chamber's 53 Democrats. Some Republicans had expressed misgivings about Lew's perks from previous employers Citigroup and New York University.

Lew's most pressing task will be to find a compromise to lessen the economic blow from $85 billion in government spending cuts that are set to kick in on Friday