WASHINGTON (CNN) - Stuart Levey, a top Bush official, has agreed to stay on as acting Treasury Secretary if current Secretary Henry Paulson's successor is not confirmed by the Senate by Inauguration Day, a source close to the transition said Wednesday.
The bureaucratic move is significant because the confirmation of President-elect Barack Obama's designate for Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, has hit a snag over his failure to pay $34,000 in federal taxes several years ago.
Democratic officials said they remained confident that Geithner's nomination will not be derailed, but acknowledged that an acting Treasury secretary may need to take the job because Republican questions could delay the confirmation beyond Inaugural Day.
Levey, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, would be thrust into the spotlight if he gets the job. The Treasury Department is in the middle of a controversial debate among Congress and the ingoing and outgoing administrations about how the next $350 billion in bailout funds are to be spent.