Overnight Finance

On The Money: Senate confirms Yellen as first female Treasury secretary | Biden says he’s open to tighter income limits for stimulus checks | Administration will look to expedite getting Tubman on $20 bill

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Happy Monday and welcome back to On The Money. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL—Senate confirms Yellen as first female Treasury secretary: The Senate on Monday confirmed Janet Yellen as the first woman to lead the Treasury Department, where her immediate priority will be addressing the coronavirus recession.

Yellen, a Democrat, was confirmed by the Senate 84-15, with broad bipartisan support. All 15 no votes came from Republicans.

  • Yellen brings a wealth of policy experience to her new position. She served as chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018,  the first woman to hold that position, and was head of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton administration.
  • She is the third of Biden’s Cabinet nominees to be confirmed, following Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
  • The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved Yellen’s nomination last week, with Democrats and even Republicans touting her qualifications despite GOP opposition to much of President Biden’s economic agenda.

The Hill’s Niv Elis, Naomi Jagoda and I have more here.

The crisis that awaits her: Yellen’s top priority as Treasury secretary is to address the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

  • During her confirmation hearing, she advocated for a $1.9 trillion relief package floated by Biden that includes enhanced unemployment benefits, $1,400 direct payments, funds for vaccine distribution, and aid to state and local governments.
  • Republicans have indicated opposition to the size of the package and its impact on the national debt. Yellen has countered that the risks of too little stimulus are larger than the risks of too much government spending at this stage in the pandemic.

LEADING THE DAY

Biden says he’s open to negotiating income limits for stimulus checks: President Biden said Monday that he’s open to negotiating the income limits for a new round of stimulus payments, as he seeks to enact a coronavirus relief package early in his presidency.

“This is all a bit of a moving target in terms of the precision with which this goes,” he said at an event where he signed an executive order aimed at increasing federal procurement of American-made goods.

Some lawmakers have expressed concerns that the direct payments in Biden’s relief bill might not be targeted enough to those most in need, and could go to some high-income families. 

“There’s legitimate reason for people to say, ‘Do you have the lines drawn the exact right way. Should it go to anybody making over x number of dollars or y,” Biden said. “I’m open to negotiate those things.”

Naomi tells us where things stand here.

Biden administration will look to expedite getting Tubman on $20 bill: The Biden administration is looking at ways to speed up the process of putting Harriet Tubman’s image on the $20 bill after the effort stalled under the Trump administration.

“The Treasury Department is taking steps to resume efforts to put Harriett Tubman on the front of the $20 notes,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing with reporters.

“It’s important that our notes, our money … reflect the history and diversity of our country, and Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that,” she added. “So we’re exploring ways to speed up that effort.”

The background:

  • The Treasury Department announced in April 2016, during the Obama administration, that Tubman would replace former President Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill. 
  • Then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said at the time that a design for the new bills featuring the civil rights icon could be unveiled in 2020, in time for the centennial of the passage of women’s suffrage.

But the initiative hit a wall under the Trump administration. Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers in 2019 that the effort to put Tubman on the $20 bill would be delayed until 2028.

Former President Trump himself had expressed opposition to putting Tubman on the $20 bill at the time it was first announced, calling it “pure political correctness” during the 2016 campaign.

Here’s more from The Hill’s Brett Samuels. 

ON TAP TOMORROW: 

  • The Senate Commerce Committee holds a confirmation hearing for Gina Raimondo to be secretary of Commerce at 10 a.m.
  • Modern Credit Systems, Alternative Data & the American Dream: For many Americans who lack access to traditional credit, the traditional markers of stability and success may remain out of reach. Some have suggested incorporating alternative data like cell phone, utility, and rent payments in credit scores. What guardrails can ensure consumer protection? Can alternative data be used to increase access to credit for underserved families? What needs to be done for lenders to become comfortable using alternative data in credit underwriting? Suze Orman, John Hope Bryant, Reps. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) and Patrick McHenry (R-NC) headline a conversation on modernizing the credit system. RSVP today

 

GOOD TO KNOW

  • Stocks closed with mixed results Monday, with the Nasdaq jumping and the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling, as President Biden embarked on his first full week in office.
  • President Biden is facing tough choices on trade policy after four years of rising tensions, steep tariffs and isolationism from former President Trump. 
  • House Democrats are looking to introduce a bill that would permanently expand benefits to families with children. 
  • A United Nations trade agency reported that China surpassed the U.S. as the largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2020.
  • The Washington Post: “Shutdowns by Democratic governors did not cause the pandemic jobs crisis”

ODDS AND ENDS

  • The Biden administration on Monday signaled that it will continue to “hold China accountable” on technology-related concerns, though final decisions around its stance on social media app TikTok and telecom group Huawei have not yet been made. 
  • Google workers are forming a global union alliance in an effort to hold the tech giant accountable, the group announced Monday. 
Tags Avril Haines Donald Trump Gina Raimondo Jack Lew Janet Yellen Jen Psaki Joyce Beatty Lloyd Austin Patrick McHenry Steven Mnuchin
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