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 pandemic.

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 secretary.

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 Treasury Department.

Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey, Mr. Biden's campaign economic advisers, will serve as members of the CEA alongside Ms. Rouse.

Ms. Rouse, Mr. Bernstein and Mr. Adeyemo played key roles in the aftermath of the financial crisis during the Obama administration.

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 negotiations.

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 Treasury Department.

"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 process.

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 and Tarini Parti at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 01, 2020 19:21 ET (00:21 GMT)

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