Biden names Janet Yellen as his Treasury nominee
President-elect Joe Biden on Monday named former Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen as his nominee for Treasury secretary, formalizing a nomination that has been expected for more than a week.
Biden announced Yellen as his Treasury pick in a release that also tapped a number of others for posts on his economic team, including Neera Tanden as his budget director and Cecilia Rouse as chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers.
“As we get to work to control the virus, this is the team that will deliver immediate economic relief for the American people during this economic crisis and help us build our economy back better than ever,” Biden said in a release.
“This team is comprised of respected and tested groundbreaking public servants who will help the communities hardest hit by COVID-19 and address the structural inequities in our economy. They will work tirelessly to ensure every American enjoys a fair return for their work and an equal chance to get ahead, and that our businesses can thrive and outcompete the rest of the world,” Biden said.
In Yellen, Biden is tapping a groundbreaking economist who is held in high regard among party moderates and progressives alike.
Yellen, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, would be the first woman to serve as Treasury secretary. Her credentials among liberal Democrats and decades of federal government experience made her an early front-runner for the crucial post, though many progressives had hoped Biden would pick Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Yellen, 74, became the first woman to chair the Fed board of governors in 2014. She was confirmed by the Senate in a 56-26 vote and led the central bank’s efforts to bolster the recovery from the Great Recession. Her insistence on keeping interest rates near zero for much of her tenure laid the groundwork for a major shift in the way the Fed balances unemployment and inflation, though some progressives have criticized the rate hikes during the second half of her tenure.
President Trump declined to nominate Yellen for a second four-year term when her term expired in 2018. Her Republican successor, Jerome Powell, has voted in lockstep with Yellen on interest rates and led the Fed’s efforts to formalize its new emphasis on reducing unemployment.
If confirmed by the Senate, Yellen would be the first person to chair the Fed, lead the Treasury Department and serve as chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers — a position she held from 1997 to 1999 during the Clinton administration.
Democrats, Republicans and business groups have all praised Yellen for her deep background and expertise that will be crucial to the challenges facing the U.S. economy.
“Janet Yellen demonstrated her intellect, foresight, and independence during the financial crisis, and throughout her term as Fed Chair,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry (N.C.), the ranking Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, in a Monday statement. The House does not vote on presidential appointments, but wields signifiant oversight power over the executive branch.
“While I will work against the Biden Administration’s agenda of tax increases and burdensome regulations, I think it’s important we have credible and experienced people to serve at the highest levels of government. Yellen has clearly demonstrated her capacity during her public service.”
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) hailed Yellen as a “champion of the American worker” with “extraordinary expertise,” and the American Bankers Association said Yellen is well prepared for “the challenges facing the country.”
Yellen would play a critical role in the Biden administration’s efforts to repair the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic and oversee the financial sector for flashpoints that could cause another crisis. She will also be central to any tax provisions employed as coronavirus relief and the Biden administration’s tax policy agenda broadly.
“Her deep experience and steady leadership are especially valuable as our nation works to recover from the COVID recession,” said Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees tax policy.
Updated at 10:51 a.m.