Some Democrats announced their support.
Reactions reflected the bitter political divide in Washington.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., ranking minority member on the Senate Budget Committee, was one of the harshest critics.
"Jack Lew must never be secretary of the treasury," Sessions said in a statement. "His testimony before the Senate Budget Committee less than two years ago was so outrageous and false that it alone disqualifies.
"On the most important question of our time, the unsustainability of our national debt course, Lew, as the president's budget director, appeared before Congress and continued to insist that President Obama's budget -- which Lew had crafted -- would not add to the debt of the United States."
John Cornyn, Senate minority whip, said, "Under Jack Lew's leadership at the Office of Management and Budget, we saw trillion-dollar deficits and no serious attempt to rein in spending. As President Obama's chief of staff, we've seen ongoing dilatory tactics as the nation stares down one fiscal crisis after another. While Mr. Lew deserves a fair hearing, Texans deserve to hear the president's plan for cutting spending and balancing our budget."
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House minority leader and former speaker, said, Obama "has made the right choice in nominating Jack Lew to serve as our nation's next secretary of the treasury -- selecting a public servant of dignity and commitment to help spur our economic growth, instill confidence in consumers and the markets, and protect and strengthen the middle class."
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., House minority whip, said, "I join in congratulating Jack Lew on his nomination as our next secretary of the treasury and thanking [outgoing Treasury Secretary] Tim Geithner for his steady leadership during a time of extraordinary economic challenges. Jack's extensive public and private sector experience, his knowledge of both the fiscal and financial, will be an invaluable asset in this new role. He understands the economy and what makes it tick."
Lew must be confirmed by the Senate.