Janet Yellen Confirmed by Senate to Serve as First Woman Treasury Secretary
By Kate Davidson
WASHINGTON -- Janet Yellen will become the first woman to lead
the U.S. Treasury Department after the Senate voted 84-15 on Monday
evening to confirm her nomination.
The 74-year-old economist, who has been at the forefront of
economic policy-making for 25 years, will now play a key role
advancing President Biden's economic agenda, starting with an
ambitious $1.9 trillion economic relief package that is already
facing resistance from GOP lawmakers worried about its cost.
Ms. Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chairwoman, will also
become the first person to lead the Treasury, Fed and the White
House Council of Economic Advisers, which she chaired during the
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said Ms.
Yellen's speedy confirmation reflects his view that presidents
should be able to assemble a team of "qualified and mainstream
"This certainly isn't because Dr. Yellen's or President Biden's
economic policy views have unanimous support in the Senate," Mr.
McConnell said on the Senate floor before the vote. "I expect we'll
have no shortage of spirited policy discussions with Dr. Yellen in
the months ahead -- especially if some Democrats keep trying to use
this historic emergency as a pretext to push through permanent
far-left policy changes."
The Senate Finance Committee voted unanimously last week to
approve Ms. Yellen's nomination. At the time, Sen. Chuck Grassley
(R., Iowa) said he hoped the GOP support "signals an interest by me
and I know by all of my Republican colleagues in working
cooperatively and in a bipartisan way" with President Biden.
While Mr. Grassley and several other Republicans said they
disagreed with Ms. Yellen on policy issues, including on tax
increases and proposals to raise the minimum wage, they said she
was qualified to lead the Treasury.
Ms. Yellen will now begin making the case on Capitol Hill for
the administration's relief package, which provides for another
round of direct stimulus payments, extended and enhanced jobless
benefits, funding for schools and first responders and the creation
of a nationwide vaccination program. It also includes longstanding
Democratic priorities, such as raising the federal minimum wage to
$15 an hour and expanding paid leave for workers.
At her confirmation hearing last week, she urged lawmakers to
set aside concerns about rising budget deficits and "act big" to
avoid a protracted economic downturn.
"Economists don't always agree, but I think there is a consensus
now: Without further action, we risk a longer, more painful
recession now -- and long-term scarring of the economy later," she
She will take the reins at the Treasury as the economic recovery
falters amid a surge in virus coronavirus cases and deaths. After
seven months of job gains, U.S. employers shed 140,000 jobs in
December, while retail sales fell for the third straight month.
Ms. Yellen at her hearing also said the Biden administration
wouldn't seek to raise taxes on the wealthy or corporations until
the economy had recovered further from the pandemic. She also
sounded a hawkish note on China, affirmed the U.S.'s commitment to
market-determined exchange rates and said she plans to establish a
hub within the Treasury to review financial stability risks and tax
incentives around climate change, which she called an existential
Ms. Yellen's deputy, Wally Adeyemo, is awaiting a confirmation
hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. Nellie Liang, an
economist who specialized in financial stability during her career
at the Federal Reserve, is expected to be tapped as the
undersecretary for domestic finance, according to people familiar
with the matter.
Write to Kate Davidson at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 25, 2021 18:43 ET (23:43 GMT)
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