By Sabrina Siddiqui and Tarini Parti
WILMINGTON, Del. -- President-elect Joe Biden formally
introduced his picks for key economic positions in remarks on
Tuesday, emphasizing their experience and diverse backgrounds as
the U.S. weathers the economic fallout from the coronavirus
Flanked by the people he has chosen for top economic roles, Mr.
Biden said during the appearance in Wilmington, Del., that his team
was working on a plan to revitalize the U.S. economy and help the
nation recover from what he called "the most unequal economic and
job crisis in modern history."
The president-elect called on Congress to pass a robust
coronavirus relief bill but said a larger stimulus effort would be
necessary during his administration to address the long-term impact
of the pandemic.
"Any package passed in lame-duck session is, at best, just a
start," he said.
Mr. Biden named former Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen
as his Treasury secretary nominee and Neera Tanden, head of the
center-left think tank Center for American Progress, as his pick
for director of the Office of Management and Budget. Ms. Tanden's
nomination has drawn criticism from some on the right and the left
because of her criticism of several GOP lawmakers and allies of
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. If confirmed, she would be the
first woman of color and the first South Asian woman to oversee
OMB, while Ms. Yellen would be the first female Treasury
The former vice president also announced Cecilia Rouse, a
Princeton University labor economist, as his choice to be
chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Adewale "Wally"
Adeyemo, a former senior international economic adviser during the
Obama administration, to serve as Ms. Yellen's top deputy at the
Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey, Mr. Biden's campaign
economic advisers, will serve as members of the CEA alongside Ms.
Ms. Rouse, Mr. Bernstein and Mr. Adeyemo played key roles in the
aftermath of the financial crisis during the Obama
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Treasury
Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke Tuesday afternoon about coronavirus
relief, and a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers
unveiled a $908 billion aid proposal, seeking a middle ground
between Democratic and Republican leaders' stances. Republican and
Democratic leaders also traded new offers, as the looming
expiration of some relief measures intensified the pace of year-end
As he left the event on Tuesday, Mr. Biden told reporters he had
just heard about the proposal and planned to "take a look" at it
upon returning to his home.
Mr. Biden also said he hadn't yet spoken with Senate Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell. A spokesman for Mr. McConnell said he had
"no readouts or announcements" when asked if the Kentucky
Republican had any calls scheduled with the president-elect. Mr.
McConnell hasn't publicly acknowledged Mr. Biden's victory over
President Trump in the November election.
Mr. Biden said during his remarks that there was a consensus
around the need to provide more resources to businesses and workers
to adapt to the coronavirus, and to shore up the production of
personal protective equipment for health-care workers. He also
stressed the importance of giving additional aid to small
businesses and entrepreneurs "who form the backbone of the
communities that we live in that are teetering on the edge."
After Mr. Biden spoke, each member of his economic team gave
brief remarks. Several of them spoke of the importance of
government programs in providing assistance to struggling families
and working-class Americans.
Ms. Yellen said the economic recovery from the pandemic
presented a chance to address "deeper structural problems," such as
racial inequality and stagnant wages.
"It's an American tragedy -- and it's essential that we move
with urgency," Ms. Yellen said. "Inaction will produce a
self-reinforcing downturn causing yet more devastation."
Ms. Tanden recalled how she was raised by a single mother who
immigrated to the U.S. from India and initially relied on food and
housing programs to provide for her family.
"I'm here today because of social programs, because of budgetary
choices, because of a government that saw my mother's dignity and
gave her a chance," Ms. Tanden said.
Some members of Mr. Biden's team will require Senate
confirmation. Republicans have won 50 seats to Democrats' 48, with
two races and control of the Senate still to be determined by a
pair of runoff elections in Georgia on Jan 5.
Some GOP senators have praised Ms. Yellen's qualifications and
signaled they would be open to helping confirm her to lead the
"I believe she'd get a favorable view," Sen. Chuck Grassley (R.,
Iowa) told reporters Monday.
Ms. Tanden, however, has drawn resistance in part because of her
use of Twitter to criticize Mr. Trump and Republican lawmakers.
Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) said Monday that she would have a
"problematic path" to confirmation.
As a candidate, Mr. Biden proposed more than $7 trillion in new
federal spending over 10 years, according to campaign and
think-tank estimates, on plans to address infrastructure, housing,
education, clean energy and health care. Mr. Biden also outlined
plans to raise taxes on high-income households and said he would
seek to increase regulation of energy and other sectors.
Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris are expected to announce more cabinet
and White House picks in the coming days. Tina Flournoy, who
currently serves as the chief of staff to former President Bill
Clinton, is considered the top candidate to serve as Ms. Harris's
chief of staff, according to a person familiar with the
The president-elect wore a boot during the event Tuesday. He
fractured his ankle over the holiday weekend after he slipped while
playing with his dog.
--Lindsay Wise contributed to this article.
Write to Sabrina Siddiqui at Sabrina.Siddiqui@wsj.com and Tarini
Parti at Tarini.Parti@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 01, 2020 19:21 ET (00:21 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.