The Senate Finance Committee on Friday unanimously supported the confirmation of Gary Gensler as Treasury under secretary for domestic finance. The nomination now goes to the Senate.

An 18-year veteran of Goldman, Sachs & Co., Mr. Gensler left the firm- and his potentially lucrative partnership there-in 1997 to become the Treasury's assistant secretary for financial markets. He would succeed John D. Hawke Jr., who became comptroller of the currency.

At a confirmation hearing two days before last week's vote-and the morning after the President's State of the Union Address-only New York Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan questioned Mr. Gensler.

How much money, the senator wryly asked, would a private-sector fund manager administering a $600 billion taxpayer-funded account earn?

Like a seasoned Washington pro, Mr. Gensler declined to answer.

Mr. Hawke made his first public appearance as comptroller of the currency last week at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Washington's first community development bank.

"I've got a particularly strong interest in community-based financial institutions," he told the crowd of more than 100, because he oversaw development of the Community Development Financial Institutions fund as under secretary for domestic finance at the Treasury Department.

The event was well attended. Regulators Bruce A. Morrison, chairman of the Federal Housing Finance Board, and Ellen Seidman, director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, were in the audience.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Donna A. Tanoue last week dissolved the agency's Office of Policy Development, a three-year-old division responsible for coordinating internal policy debate and drafting congressional testimony.

In its place, Ms. Tanoue established a "chairman's working group," which will be the agency's central policymaking body.

All 12 members of the defunct policy office will be reassigned. Its chief, Robert W. Russell, has succeeded Roger A. Hood as deputy to FDIC Vice Chairman Andrew C. Hove Jr.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm vowed last week to stop President Clinton's plan for government investment of Social Security funds in the stock market.

In his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, the President proposed devoting 62% of the federal government's projected surplus over the next 15 years to bolster the retirement program. The government would invest 20% to 25% of that amount in stocks.

Like Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan and other critics, Sen. Gramm objected to government control of investment decisions. "We need to save Social Security, not deliver it to the bureaucrats," the Texas Republican said.

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