Biden's economic team gets mixed reviews from Senate Republicans

President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenMadame Tussauds unveils new Biden and Harris figures US raises concerns about Russian troop movements to Belarus Putin tests a model for invading Ukraine, outwitting Biden's diplomats MORE on Monday announced his choices for key members of his economic team, with Senate Republicans complimenting one of his top picks and bashing another.

Biden said he would nominate former Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet YellenJanet YellenOn the Money — Yellen highlights wealth gap in MLK speech Yellen: US has 'much more work' to close racial wealth gap The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat MORE to serve as Treasury secretary and Neera TandenNeera TandenBiden to sign order to streamline government services to public Politics, media worlds react to Wallace news Biden's head of personnel to leave White House for UNICEF MORE, the president of the liberal Center for American Progress think tank, for director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Yellen, who was last confirmed by the Senate in 2014 when Democrats were in the majority, earned positive remarks from some GOP senators on Monday.


Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyBig Tech critics launch new project Senate antitrust bill has serious ramifications for consumers and small businesses Hillicon Valley: Amazon's Alabama union fight — take two MORE (R-Iowa), who will be Senate Finance Committee chairman next year if Republicans keep their majority, declined to say if Yellen would be confirmed, noting they still need to go through tax documents, but predicted she would “get a favorable view.”

Tanden, meanwhile, had already drawn swift backlash, signaling a rough road ahead for her.

If confirmed, both Yellen and Tanden would play crucial roles in the administration’s efforts to repair the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden also announced he would nominate Cecilia RouseCecilia RouseBlack Caucus pushes for priorities in final deal On The Money: Inflation spike puts Biden on defensive | Senate Democrats hit spending speed bumps | Larry Summers huddles with WH team Larry Summers, White House officials meet to discuss Biden agenda MORE, dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, to chair the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), the president’s internal economic analysis team.

The president-elect will tap campaign adviser and former chief economist Jared BernsteinJared BernsteinInflation offers steep hike for Biden Biden says administration 'making progress' slowing rate of price increases Annual inflation hits 30-year high MORE and Heather BousheyHeather BousheySpiking inflation weighs on Biden economic agenda The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - COVID vaccine developments Pelosi, White House recognize Equal Pay Day MORE, co-founder of the progressive Washington Center for Equitable Growth, as members of the CEA.

Rounding out Monday’s announcements was Wally Adeyemo, Biden’s pick for deputy Treasury secretary.


“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 statement.

“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.”

All six of the nominees announced Monday have extensive experience in areas prioritized by Biden and highlighted by the pandemic-driven recession, the worst since the Great Depression.

Yellen’s expertise in labor market economics could prove crucial to the Biden administration’s efforts to reduce high unemployment and undo massive setbacks for women and minorities in the workforce.

Rouse’s focus on the economics of education comes amid deepening concern about the impact of school closures and telelearning on low-income students.

Bernstein and Boushey have both extensively studied how income and wealth inequality, which has been driven higher by COVID-19, harm the broader economy.

Tanden helped craft the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which Biden has pledged to expand, and Biden will likely tap Adeyemo’s experience in international economics to strengthen economic ties with allies while ramping up pressure on China.

Most of the new members of Biden’s economic team fit the mold of his previously announced choices for his administration: veterans of the Obama administration, some of whom have survived a Senate confirmation process and are well-regarded among different factions of the party.

Yellen chaired the Fed board from 2014 to 2018 after serving as the central bank’s No. 2 policymaker from 2011 to 2014. Her deep government and academic experience make her a safer choice to make it through a narrowly divided Senate that is expected to remain in GOP control.

Rouse was also confirmed when Democrats controlled the Senate — back in 2009 — to be a member of the CEA. Adeyemo served as deputy director of the National Economic Council and deputy national security adviser to President Obama, while Bernstein served as Biden’s chief economist during Biden’s first term as vice president.

Biden’s team would be groundbreaking in its racial and gender diversity.

Yellen would be the first woman to lead the Treasury Department, Adeyemo would be the first Black deputy Treasury secretary, Rouse would be the first Black CEA chair and Tanden would be the first woman of color and South Asian American to lead the OMB.


“They are not only some of America’s most brilliant economic minds, they are also proven leaders who reflect the very best of our country. And they share a fundamental commitment to ending this economic crisis and putting people back to work, while rebuilding our economy in a way that lifts up all Americans,” said Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisMadame Tussauds unveils new Biden and Harris figures Democrats ponder Plan B strategy to circumvent voting rights filibuster Watch: Lawmakers, activists, family members call for voting rights legislation on MLK day MORE, the first woman and person of color to be elected vice president.

But getting all members of Biden’s economic team in place could prove challenging.

The nominees announced Monday are subject to Senate confirmation and will need at least 51 votes to be confirmed. The Senate majority for 2021 will be determined on Jan. 5 during two runoff elections in Georgia.

Both Yellen and Rouse have been approved by the Senate for previous roles, which should help make the case for their confirmations this time around. 

Three of the nine Senate Republicans who voted to confirm Yellen as Fed chair in 2014 will be in the Senate next year. Of the remaining two dozen Senate Republicans who have served since 2014, 18 voted against Yellen and six did not cast a vote in her 56-26 confirmation.

Rouse also has not faced a Senate vote since Republicans took control of the chamber in 2015.


The increasingly divisive nature of Senate confirmations means Yellen may see less GOP support than she did in 2014, but her deep credentials and avoidance of overtly partisan activities, along with Monday’s complimentary remarks from Republicans, make her a safer choice than some of Biden’s other picks.

Tanden has already sparked significant criticism from Republicans over her work as a close adviser to former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat Left laughs off floated changes to 2024 ticket A year into his presidency, Biden is polling at an all-time low MORE and leadership of a prominent think tank that regularly takes aim at Republicans and GOP policies

Drew Brandewie, a spokesman for Sen. John CornynJohn CornynAll hostages free, safe after hours-long standoff at Texas synagogue: governor McConnell will run for another term as leader despite Trump's attacks Republicans threaten floor takeover if Democrats weaken filibuster  MORE (R-Texas), said Tanden’s “endless stream of disparaging comments about the Republican Senators’ whose votes she’ll need” gives her “zero chance of being confirmed.”

Tanden also has a strained relationship with the left flank of the Democratic Party after feuds with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersShame on Biden for his Atlanta remarks — but are we surprised? Overnight Health Care — Biden faces pressure from Democrats on COVID-19 Sanders calls out Manchin, Sinema ahead of filibuster showdown MORE (I-Vt.) and his supporters during the 2016 and 2020 Democratic presidential primaries. Still, Tanden received endorsements Monday from progressive Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownDemocrats see good chance of Garland prosecuting Trump On the Money — Student borrowers stare down rising prices Biden selects Sarah Bloom Raskin, two others for Fed board MORE (D-Ohio) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren dodges on whether Sinema, Manchin should be challenged in primaries Former aide says she felt 'abandoned' by Democrats who advanced Garcetti nomination as ambassador to India The Memo: 2024 chatter reveals Democratic nervousness MORE (D-Mass.), making a Democratic revolt against her nomination unlikely.

Jordain Carney contributed. Updated at 6:03 p.m.