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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 YellenDebt to break WWII record by 2031 Inflation debate heats up over Biden relief bill Biden cautious in making Trump tax returns decision MORE’s nomination to be Treasury secretary, furthering President BidenJoe BidenTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot FireEye finds evidence Chinese hackers exploited Microsoft email app flaw since January Biden officials to travel to border amid influx of young migrants 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 WydenProgressives won't oppose bill over limits on stimulus checks GOP pulling out all the stops to delay COVID-19 package Overnight Health Care: Biden slams Texas, Mississippi for lifting coronavirus restrictions: 'Neanderthal thinking' | Senate panel splits along party lines on Becerra |Over 200K sign up for ACA plans during Biden special enrollment period 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 BrownMandel gets Club for Growth nod in Ohio Senate primary Bipartisan bill would ban lawmakers from buying, selling stocks Mellman: How the Senate decided impeachment 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 GrassleyGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks National Sheriffs' Association backs Biden pick for key DOJ role Bipartisan group of senators introduces bill to rein in Biden's war powers 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 LankfordRon Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many Senate coronavirus bill delayed until Thursday GOP targets Manchin, Sinema, Kelly on Becerra MORE (R-Okla.), adding appreciation for Yellen’s commitment to bring relevant issues to the committee members.