Grassley: Lew needs to provide more details

Sen. Charles GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Tech: Facebook faces crisis over Cambridge Analytica data | Lawmakers demand answers | What to watch for next | Day one of AT&T's merger trial | Self-driving Uber car kills pedestrian Overnight Cybersecurity: Trump-linked data firm Cambridge Analytica attracts scrutiny | House passes cyber response team bill | What to know about Russian cyberattacks on energy grid Overnight Finance: Congress races to finish .2T funding bill | What to look for in omnibus | AT&T merger trial kicks off | Stocks fall on tech troubles | Trump targets Venezuelan cryptocurrency | Record SEC whistleblower payout MORE (R-Iowa) wants to hold up the nomination of Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewBig tech lobbying groups push Treasury to speak out on EU tax proposal Overnight Finance: Hatch announces retirement from Senate | What you can expect from new tax code | Five ways finance laws could change in 2018 | Peter Thiel bets big on bitcoin Ex-Obama Treasury secretary: Tax cuts 'leaving us broke' MORE to be Treasury secretary until the nominee expands on several "unsatisfactory" answers.

In a statement, the Senate Finance Committee member said he was frustrated by Lew saying he could not recall details pertinent to Grassley's questions surrounding his time as an executive in the private sector in between the Clinton and Obama administrations.

"Mr. Lew has a lack of knowledge or a poor memory of some of the perks he received through his tenure at New York University and Citigroup," he said. "His lack of recall is distressing."

In particular, Grassley said he was frustrated that Lew said he could not recall the specific terms of a $1.4 million loan he received from NYU — housing assistance that was part of his compensation package as executive vice president of operations.

In a response to a written question submitted by Grassley, Lew said the school provided a mortgage forgiven in equal installments over five years, as well as an additional shared appreciation mortgage, but said he could not recall the specific terms of the agreement.

Grassley contended that while Lew was at the university, its endowment grew by nearly 60 percent to $1.7 billion, its tuition for student also jumped 40 percent, suggesting that Lew enjoyed sizable executive perks while students were swimming in debt.

"Mr. Lew’s boss, the President, continually expresses concern about college affordability, so it’s important to know whether Mr. Lew enjoyed financial perks as a university executive even as students weathered tuition increases and debt," Grassley said. "Universities are tax exempt to fulfill their mission of educating students, and executive compensation is part of the picture toward understanding how well universities fulfill their mission.”

Arguing that Lew failed to provide "adequate detail or the documents" to questions, Grassley said he was asking Committee Chairman Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusFarmers hit Trump on trade in new ad Feinstein’s trouble underlines Democratic Party’s shift to left 2020 Dems pose a big dilemma for Schumer MORE (D-Mont.) to hold off on voting on Lew's nomination until more details are given.

A spokesman for Baucus defended Lew, saying he was "answering every question posed to him in a timely manner."

"The confirmation process continues to move forward. All members are entitled to ask Mr. Lew follow up questions," the spokesman said. "And Senator Baucus has, and will continue to, listen to any concerns Members of the Committee may have."

The White House contends Lew has responded to every question posed to him, rebutting Grassley's claim he still had more to answer.

"Jack Lew has been fully responsive to this committee to an unprecedented degree," said White House spokesman Eric Schultz.

All told, Grassley submitted 26 questions to Lew in writing on a host of issues, ranging from his time in the private sector to his thoughts on various pending policy matters.

Lew's responses were largely not contentious, as he responded several times by either saying he did not recall information pertinent to particular questions, or would look forward to working with Grassley and others on the topic in question if confirmed.

A source close the committee process defended Lew, pointing out that he spent 3 and a half hours answering questions from senators during his confirmation hearing, and met privately with 41 different senators before that. He did not meet with Grassley, who declined to meet with him.

After his hearing, Lew then answered 444 questions in writing in responses that spanned 221 pages. By comparison, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson received 81 written questions following his confirmation hearing.

Earlier in February, Lew was pressed by GOP senators during his confirmation hearing, particularly on his time at Citigroup and a one-time investment in the Cayman Islands he had while at the bank. Lew claimed he was unaware the investment, which he ultimately sold at a loss after returning to government work, was based in the infamous tax haven nation, and no questions from the hearing appeared to derail his nomination. Lew has already been confirmed by the Senate several times in the past, serving as budget director under both President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonCourt questions greens’ challenge to EPA chemical rule delay The only way out of this mess Federal court tosses out Obama-era rule requiring financial advisers to act in customers' best interests MORE and President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTrump adds to legal team after attacks on Mueller Stock market is in an election year: Will your vote impact your money? Trump will perpetuate bailouts by signing bank reform bill MORE.

--This report was last updated on Feb. 21 at 7:42 a.m.