UPDATE 3-U.S. appoints Brainard top financial diplomat

* Brainard confirmed in bipartisan 78-19 vote

* Nomination stalled over a year on tax allegations

* Appointment coincides with China currency issue

(Adds Republican comment, context)

By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON, April 20 (BestGrowthStock) – Lael Brainard won Senate
confirmation on Tuesday as the Treasury Department’s top
financial diplomat, giving her a key role in U.S. efforts to
persuade China to adopt a more flexible currency.

The Senate approved President Barack Obama’s nominee in a
bipartisan 78-19 vote that was stalled more than a year by
Republican concerns over Brainard’s tax payments.

Nineteen Senate Republicans joined 57 Democrats and two
independents in confirming Brainard Treasury Department under
secretary for international affairs.

Brainard, who served in the Clinton White House, faced a
probe into tax deductions she made for a home office, late
payments of some property taxes and verification of legal
status for household employees.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner welcomed the
confirmation, saying, “At this critical time for our global
economic agenda, Lael’s leadership will help bolster our
partnership abroad and increase economic opportunity for
Americans here at home.”

The timing of the confirmation vote is significant as it
occurs before meetings this week of the Group of 20, the
smaller Group of Seven and the International Monetary Fund and
World Bank.

Democrats say Republicans delayed appointment of a large
number of administration officials to hold up Obama’s agenda.
Republicans argue Brainard did not level with the Senate
Finance Committee about her taxes and failed to mention she did
not pay some on time.

“If we cannot trust Miss Brainard to be truthful and
straightforward when she is a nominee, how can the American
people trust her to be straightforward and honest when she is
confirmed and serving in the Obama administration?” said
Republican Senator Jim Bunning on the Senate floor shortly
before the vote.

As well as holding a key position in talks with China,
Brainard would help shepherd U.S. official positions through
the global lending agencies that are being urged to take on a
stronger role in monitoring global currency policies.

She will help Treasury prepare for the annual meeting in
Beijing of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which occurs at
a sensitive time as the Obama administration tries to keep
momentum going for China to let its currency, the yuan,
appreciate.

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(Reporting by Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Andrew Hay)

UPDATE 3-U.S. appoints Brainard top financial diplomat