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Senate panel unanimously advances Yellen nomination for Treasury

Senate panel unanimously advances Yellen nomination for Treasury
© Greg Nash

The Senate Finance Committee on Friday unanimously advanced Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenTreasury announces sanctions on Saudi officials following Khashoggi report Poll: Biden approval holds steady as Democrats eye .9 T COVID-19 relief bill Senate confirms former Michigan governor Granholm as Energy secretary MORE’s nomination to be Treasury secretary, furthering President BidenJoe BidenNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors Biden celebrates vaccine approval but warns 'current improvement could reverse' MORE’s choice for a key Cabinet position.

The committee approved the nomination by a vote of 26-0.

Democrats are hoping that Yellen will quickly be confirmed by the full Senate. Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHouse Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike House set for tight vote on COVID-19 relief package On The Money: Democrats scramble to save minimum wage hike | Personal incomes rise, inflation stays low after stimulus burst MORE (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, said he hopes that the nomination will get a vote on the Senate floor later in the day.

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Yellen has an extensive background in economic policy, having previously served as chair of the Federal Reserve and the Council of Economic Advisers. If confirmed, as is widely expected, she would be the first woman to be Treasury secretary.

"Soon-to-be, I hope, Secretary Yellen is probably the most qualified Treasury Secretary, probably, in American history. I appreciate her gravitas and her depth," said Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSunday shows preview: 2024 hopefuls gather at CPAC; House passes coronavirus relief; vaccine effort continues Democrats: Minimum wage isn't the only issue facing parliamentarian Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill MORE (D-Ohio).

During her confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Yellen advocated for extensive federal spending in an effort to address the coronavirus pandemic and related economic downturn.

Democrats praised Yellen’s qualifications and her support for substantial coronavirus relief. Republicans did not raise questions about her qualifications but raised concerns about Biden’s spending and tax proposals.

“There’s no doubt about the qualifications of Dr. Yellen,” said Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley to vote against Tanden nomination Grassley says he'll decide this fall whether to run in 2022 Yellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation MORE (R-Iowa). “That’s not to say, however, that I do not have concerns, but they’re policy concerns.”

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Yellen spent much of her confirmation hearing making the case for Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus response and economic aid plan — the top legislative priority for the president and congressional Democrats. She sought to convince debt-conscious Republicans that the costs of approving too little aid for the struggling economy would make it harder for the U.S. to recover from the pandemic and eventually cover the cost of fighting it.

Yellen also told senators that tax increases are not an immediate priority for the Biden administration, but could be included in future stimulus packages.

Republicans made a point to distinguish between Yellen’s qualifications, which they said were clear, and their philosophical and policy differences, noting her support for an increased minimum wage, a major spending package and tax increases on businesses and the wealthy.

“There’s no question she’s qualified for this role, so I have to strike a balance between my advice and my consent,” said Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordRepublicans see Becerra as next target in confirmation wars Overnight Health Care: US surpasses half a million COVID deaths | House panel advances Biden's .9T COVID-19 aid bill | Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20M Americans by end of March 11 GOP senators slam Biden pick for health secretary: 'No meaningful experience' MORE (R-Okla.), adding appreciation for Yellen’s commitment to bring relevant issues to the committee members.