The U.S. Senate voted 84-15 to confirm former Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen to be President Joe Biden’s Treasury Secretary on Monday evening.
Yellen, 74, is the first woman to be named Treasury Secretary. She was also the first woman to chair the Federal Reserve under former President Barack Obama. Yellen will play a large role in advising Biden as the U.S. continues to suffer economic turmoil from the coronavirus pandemic. The Biden administration has yet to release details on when Yellen will be sworn into office.
Yellen first entered politics in President Bill Clinton’s administration after working as a professor. Both she and Biden have described America’s economy of late as “K-shaped,” in which the wealth get more wealthy and the poor slip further into poverty. (RELATED: Janet Yellen Used To Say Minimum Wage Hikes Killed Jobs — What Changed?)
“We have to rebuild our economy so that it creates more prosperity, for more people, and ensures that American workers can compete in an increasingly competitive global economy,” she told senators in her confirmation hearing last week.
“We’re going to create a recovery for everybody,” President-elect Joe Biden said Tuesday prior to formally unveiling his economic team
“Our message to everybody struggling right now is this,” Biden said, “help is on the way.”
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) December 1, 2020
Yellen’s confirmation coincides with Biden’s push for a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill to go through Congress. The bill is certain to pass the Democrat-held House but will face staunch opposition in the evenly-split Senate. Republicans argued for a relief package as low as $500 billion in the final months of President Donald Trump’s administration.
It remains unclear which Republicans might defect to clear the way for the bill as is. Moderates such as Republican Utah Sen. Mitt Romney have balked at the high price tag.
Biden’s bill calls for $1,400 in direct payments to Americans making less than $75,000 per year. It also allots hundreds of billions to vaccine research, testing, reopening schools, helping small businesses, and supporting state and local governments.
Biden said he doesn’t believe pushing for such a radical bill counteracts his “unity” message.
“If you pass a piece of legislation that breaks down on party lines but it gets passed, it doesn’t mean there wasn’t unity. It just means it wasn’t bipartisan,” he told reporters at a Monday signing ceremony.